Apple’s iPad continues to reign as king of the tablets, launching a whole sub-industry of iPad cases and accessories. But where are all of the competing tablet PCs promised at CES 2010?
It seems that whenever Apple debuts a groundbreaking new mobile device or computer, a whole new market segment opens up in the world of consumer electronics. Like a gadget supernova, new industry niches are formed like new suns and planets spinning out of a massive, exploding star. The latest star has been Apple’s iPad: in addition to the expectation that Apple will sell 10 million iPads in 2010 alone, thousands of iPad apps, iPad cases, and other iPad accessories have already exploded into the marketplace and will continue to do, generating a billion dollar market for products that are completely dependent on the iPad and its platform.
Given the fact that Apple has officially opened the market on tablet devices, why haven’t we seen any viable PC tablet contenders yet?
Way back in the beginning of 2010, CES offered tech enthusiasts a promising peek into a wide range of PC tablet devices. Microsoft-owned HP seemed to be taking the boldest step towards a competing tablet design with the proposed “Slate” device. Dell, too, boldly proclaimed that they would have a slate/tablet device ready by early June to compete with the iPad. The same goes for a host of other designers, such as Lenovo, Sony, etc.
Now, we’re approaching mid-July, and the iPad remains the only tablet device available on the market. What gives?
The answer might be nothing more than simple marketing: because Apple has garnered so much attention and is currently dominating the consumer electronics market, the big PC manufacturers may have simply capitulated in letting 2010 be “The Year of the iPad,” assuring that there is simply too much iPad fervor to enter the marketplace with their own tablet device.
However, Apple’s newfangled devices never stopped the PC world from competing in the past: the iPod and iPhone quickly spurred PC-based designers to roll out competing devices much more quickly and successfully than what we are seeing with the tablet market.
Another possibility is that, as hard as it may be to believe, Apple’s designers might simply be way ahead of the curve on tablet technology than the rest of the electronics world. This theory comes as a result of rumors that HP and Dell went back to the drawing board on their slate devices once they caught wind of the iPad and knew that it would be first to market.
Chances are, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of all these speculations.
the fact is, whever Steve Jobs throws his weight behind a new device or technology, the electronics world shifts on its axis. The combined thrust of the Apple hype machine, together with the iPad’s tablet technology — which clearly is the best that
the electronics world has to offer at the moment — has once again sent the PC world into a tail-spin. It is precisely for this reason that Bill Gates and his PC empire continue to recede from the consumer electronics market and retreat back to the safe battle lines of business and office computing.
For Steve Jobs and Apple, that’s just fine by them.
Apple’s technology and strategic marketing message remains pointed directly at us, the consumers, and new, culture-changing gadgets like the iPad are designed to enchant the public in the style of Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory. Perhaps that’s why the iPad’s tagline — “A Magical and Revolutionary Product” — is so fitting.
For as long as the iPad magic continues, so will Apple’s domination of the tablet market.
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