After iPad, Is There a "Tablet" Market?

By Gary Kim June 21, 2011

In a strict sense, a person still can buy an MP3 from a supplier other than Apple. But Apple has 74 percent market share, almost unheard of in the consumer electronics market. Some might argue that what has happened is something more profound that simple market share dominance. It can be argued that Apple changed the market

Where the market might properly be thought of as MP3 players, or mobile music players, perhaps the existing market is 'iPods." All the other suppliers basically try to make and sell "iPods" with a different name and non-infringing software and hardware. Or, if you like, you might argue that the market Apple created (inadvertently) was iTunes, and that iTunes creates the market for a specific type of playing device.

That might be important as the "tablet" market develops, some will argue, as virtually every personal electronics supplier has to be aware of the iPod precedent, which is that Apple essentially erased the generic MP3 category and created an "iPod" market in its place.

Some will wonder whether Apple has a shot at the same sort of thing with the tablet. "Just as many preferred the iPod to the generic MP3 player, might they also come to prefer the iPad to the generic “tablet,” recasting yet another market? See Consumers Don't Want Tablets, They Want iPads - John Paczkowski - News - AllThingsD

One issue is that Apple forces other suppliers to compete with Apple's devices by essentially copying the major features of the iPad. But other MP3 products followed much the same route and failed. It cannot be unimportant that iTunes and the App Store also are available for the iPad. Think back to when Apple was a PC supplier. The software ecosystem supporting the rival Microsoft-Intel  ecosystem always was more diverse, more plentiful and better priced than competing Apple products and goods. 

Now Apple has reversed that state of affairs, and itself has the more-robust app store, though Android is pushing hard. See After several months of strong growth in 2011, the number of smartphones powered by Google's Android platform surpassed the Apple iPhone in the U.S. for the three-month period ending in November 2010, a market research firm says

“We find that consumers are not interested in form factors that deviate from the benchmark set by Apple" says Bernstein Research. "Few consumers, less than 15 percent, prefer the seven-inch screen size versus the 10-inch screen of the iPad."

"Over 50 percent of respondents are firmly in favor of the 10-inch screen, which leads us to conclude that the seven-inch tablet models recently launched, like the BlackBerry PlayBook, are destined for failure," says Bernstein.

One might ask why, as significant as it is, the iPhone has not reshaped the entire smart phone or mobile phone market. Some will argue it has, of course, but the market share figures are unlike those of the iPod. Perhaps the issue is that Apple only can reshape a whole market in its own image when it can launch a whole new category of products.

But that has to worry everybody else who needs to gain share in the tablet market. 

Gary Kim is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Contributing Editor

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