When we wrote about Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, we talked about how Google having complete and total control over the software and hardware of a future product could be beneficial not only in quality, but in how it is seen by consumers. For example, as great as some Android-powered devices are, their owners often view them as the cheap stop-gap while they pinch their pennies and save for that slick, sexy iPhone. Let’s face it: as much as hardcore tech geeks care about the inner-workings of their gadget, many people flock to the Apple store to pick up the latest iDevice (and desperately search for weeks because they sell out in an instant) because they’re cool. Those hit-and-miss Android smartphones, manufactured and designed by dozens of companies and given away like candy? Not so cool.
Which brings us to this New York Times article, which uses the power of statistics — and therefore, SCIENCE! — to prove that an overwhelming majority of the general public have no interest in any tablet that doesn’t begin with a lowercase “i” and end with a “Pad.” A ridiculous number of tablets are hitting the market in the next year and their biggest challenge won’t be proving to be a capable device, but rather convincing everyone in the world that they’re just as amazing as the iPad.
Of the 1194 people who participated in the in the survey, 50% owned a tablet or were planning to buy one soon. Of those people, 95% either already owned an iPad or wanted one. The other percentages, based on level of interest, are just plain anemic in comparison. The runner-up was the HP Touchpad, but only with a paltry 10.4%. The Motorola Xoom (8.5%) and the Samsung Tab (8.3%) were right behind it. The HTC Flyer, RIM Playbook, Nook Color, and Other all scored less than 5%. The LG G-Slate, the AsusEee Pad and the Acer Iconia all scored less than Other, which stops being embarrassing and just starts being sad (the Acer Iconia, with only 0 .8%, really needs a hug right now).
It’s not that these tablets will be bad products — they’re just not Apple products. They’re hitting the market well after Apple has dominated it and raised the bar impossibly high. People not only buy iPads by the truck-full, they love their iPads, tell their friends how much they love them and make everyone who doesn’t have one incredibly jealous. Part of this comes from the exclusivity of the iPad. Everyone who owns them belongs to a special little club.
When the market becomes saturated with new tablets around Christmastime, the iPad will still be a hot seller because of its established identity. All of the newcomers will have a real challenge ahead of them: first they need to stand out from the new pack and then they’ll have to stand toe-to-toe with Apple.