Another Game of Bobbing for Apple

Carl Weinschenk

Portable-devices manufacturers must be in pretty good shape, since they have spent so much time during the past few years chasing Apple.


The first race, of course, was the one chasing the iPhone. It is still ongoing. By the look of things, Android-based devices and other cool operating systems are making the race close. The next contest, which of course will feature some of the same faces, will pit the iPad against other tablets.


The tablet world is heating up rapidly. Liliputing offers some details on the Samsung Galaxy. The Galaxy, which the site says is on the point of introduction, will be -- at 6.7-inches -- midway in size between a smartphone and the 9.7-inch Apple tablet. The Galaxy is running Android 2.2 and will have a front-facing camera. The story has a link to a Korean site with a video of the device.


Rumors are as much a part of the game as facts. The latest is that Google is planning an Chrome-based tablet that would be manufactured by HTC and run on the Verizon Wireless network. The rumor is particularly specific: The device is said likely to launch on Black Friday.


The idea that this the rash of news in tablet land is simply another case of playing follow the Apple is summed up by a quote in the NewsFactor story:


"Apple has provided the industry with a blueprint on how to create a successful tablet product. That's a market segment that eluded success for quite some time. So it's not at all surprising that we are going to see an entire army of new tablet devices this holiday season," said Avi Greengart, principal analyst at Current Analysis.

Indeed, big news in the tablet arena was made by Hewlett-Packard, which announced that it is building tablets that will run both the WebOS or Windows. This PCWorld.com writer offers five rationales for considering the HP options. The reasons are the benefits brought by the WebOS, which came to HP with the rest of Palm; the uniformity brought by the use of Windows; the reputation for reliability that HP has earned; the benefits of buying tablets from a vendor with which the purchaser almost certainly already has a relationship; and the need to put Apple in a more competitive landscape.


Some of these bullet points seem a bit of a stretch, and the author acknowledges that HP lacks a deep trove of applications. Regardless, the story should persuade buyers to at least take a look.


At least one organization think that the putative competitors are more or less wasting their time. iSuppli released data that said iPads will account for 74.1 percent of tablet sales worldwide this year. Despite the run of competitors, Apple's device will be at 70.4 percent marketshare next year and 61.7 percent in 2012. The story does not mention the overall size of the market, and notes that the predictions are based on the iPhone experience. Apple may well hold onto significant share, and losing only 12.4 percent over three years in a presumably growing market with many new competitors should be considered a bit of a victory.


It is fair to question the iSuppli's methodology, however. It is entirely possible that the competitors learned something from the iPhone experience and will do a better job of trying to knock the leader off its perch.

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