News Analysis: Apple’s iPad is wildly successful and continues to appeal to consumers. But competing tablet makers have a shot at dethroning the device if they do the right things.
Apple’s iPad is an unbridled success. The company announced in its first-quarter earnings report on Jan. 18 that it sold 7.33 million iPads during the quarter. And Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that his firm is “firing on all cylinders.”
That’s certainly true. Apple’s iPad has helped lead a charge at the company that has pushed it ahead of any other firm in the industry. Several other companies, witnessing the iPad’s phenomenal growth and wanting some of it for their own, are planning to break into that space attempting to steal Apple’s market share later this year.
The only problem is that might not be so easy. A recent study from research firm IDC found that Apple has 87 percent market share in the tablet space. But that doesn’t mean that the competition can’t overcome the iPad’s lead. With some time and strong products, Apple’s position as dominant market leader could diminish.
This is how to do it:
1. Steve Jobs is gone for now
If there was ever a time when tablet makers could capitalize on an Apple weakness, it’s now. Steve Jobs has taken a medical leave of absence from the company for an indefinite period. He has left the day-to-day control of his company to COO Tim Cook. There’s no telling if Cook will make the same decisions that Jobs would have. More importantly, there’s no telling if Cook will be able to see the changing tablet landscape the way a fully healthy Jobs would. Simply put, Jobs’ absence matters. Tablet makers can capitalize on his absence.
2. Consumers are moving to the market in droves
When one says that the iPad can be overcome, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple will lose money in the tablet space or see its sales figures decline significantly. It simply means that its dominant position in the market won’t be as apparent. A key reason for that could simply be that the consumer market for tablets will grow over time. In fact, IDC estimates that 17 million tablets were shipped worldwide in 2010, and that figure will jump to 44.6 million in 2011. As long as the many tablet makers jumping into the fray this year can prove to customers that they have a device worthy of a consumer’s hard-earned cash, it will be more difficult for Apple to maintain its 87 percent market share with so many devices heading to store shelves.
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3. The enterprise is warming to tablets
The corporate world has taken issue with tablets in the past for their lack of enterprise appeal. The iPad, as popular as it is, simply didn’t capture the allure of corporate customers as much as it could have. But the same won’t be true in 2011. With the help of the Cisco Cius and the BlackBerry PlayBook from RIM, the enterprise is getting the devices it desires. And in the meantime, Apple might lose significant market share due to its determination to focus on consumers.
4. It’s a numbers game
When it’s all said and done, the tablet market is a numbers game just as it is in any other computer hardware market sector. Although Apple has dominant market share now, the company is offering a single device. In 2011, a slew of companies, including Motorola, Cisco, HP and Acer, are expected to release worthwhile tablets of their own. Apple has been able to stand up to the mostly unappealing tablets that launched in 2010, but can it maintain such dominance against the many appealing devices that will be coming out this year? It might be more difficult than Apple or its fans think.
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