For Whom the Bell Tolls?
Around the world, the iPad still commands 89% of tablet web traffic, according to a comScore report. This is a scary prospect for all those mobile rivals that have launched their efforts, and a daunting challenge for those still to come. Some are taking pragmatic measures; ASUS -- the number two in tablet sales -- is looking bullish, selling out of its US$ 399 Eee Pad Transformer model, but Acer has slashed its tablet production by 50%.
BlackBerry is watching its share price and market share crumble, then there's HP's TouchPad, which hopes to make a splash. Samsung's latest Android-powered 10.1 tablet launches on Friday, June 24, for US$ 499 and carries the hopes of the company in making a dent in Apple's progress.
The iPad 2 remains king of the tablet hill
Legal, OS Battles
Samsung and Apple are currently beating each other up in court, but Apple's recent legal agreement with Nokia makes a knockout Samsung blow unlikely. Looking at other angles, is Android itself the problem? With early Android tablets offering an anemic experience, are users less likely to follow that path, even though the latest Android 3.0 is tablet-specific?
Perhaps Microsoft's Windows 8 is a better bet for tablet makers. That hot-selling Eee Pad seems to be destined to be one of the first Windows 8 devices and, if Android 3.0 fails to set light to the market, device makers could soon flock to Microsoft in search of a better challenger. But, for all of these challengers, they need a credible ecosystem, media offering and app environment, and while Apple might be losing some lustre, its hard to find serious flaws in the big scheme of things.
You Know What They Say About Statistics
The worrying thing for all the other players is that, with iOS 5 and iCloud looming and an iPad 3 inevitable, the goalposts will shortly move again. And while analysts expect Apple to sell around 14 million iPads this quarter, its rivals are selling 500,000 to a million units, so that lead will only keep growing.
Those scary numbers reverberate all the way down the supply chain. Apple is buying the most screens, memory, batteries and other essentials at massive rates, doing the biggest volume details. This prevents rivals from mounting any serious challenge, bar Samsung, which makes a lot of its own parts (some of which it sells to Apple).
Before computer-based, tablet-rejecting, Luddite types panic about the end of their world, all that tablet traffic only makes up around 2% of all IP traffic, with computers taking around 90%, phones around 8% and tablets the rest. Tablets have a long way to go to threaten the dominance of the humble laptop.