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Will Android-Based Tablets Ever Be Able to Seriously Compete with the iPad?

Steven Blum
1

Where the Motorola Xoom failed, others will surely succeed.

 

The pioneers get both the flowers and the arrows.

According to estimates by Deutsche Bank, sales for Motorola's Xoom, one of the first tablets to compete with the iPad, are bleak. The company has only managed to sell 100,000 of their tablet PCs thus far. That's probably the same number of people who bought iPads in the first few days after it was released.

So far, Android phones have been able to compete with the iPhone partially because of their low prices. But when an Android tablet costs a whopping $799, like the Xoom, it means the product has to compete both with both other small laptops and the iPad. That's just too much competition for an unproven piece of hardware.

When the Xoom was first released, reviewers were impressed by its technical prowess. To some reviewers it felt like someone had taken a powerful notebook computer, sheared off the keyboard and replaced it with a touch interface. But the Zoom didn't have the ability to use its own SD card slot, and only a few applications took advantage of its larger display.

There is certainly a product to be made to compete with Apple's iPad. I've always thought the iPad felt like an overgrown iPod, not a computer with the kind of capabilities that could ever replace my laptop.

It is still far, far, too early to predict how Android tablets will compete against the iPad. In the coming months, companies like RIM, LG, Dell, Asus, Acer and Hewlett Packard will all bring iPad competitors to market. Dell's 10-inch Android tablet, especially, has been getting a lot of buzz.

Ultimately, I think the only way Android will be able to compete with Apple is by creating something that's even simpler to use, has a lot of apps, and can compete on the price points. So far, when I look at something like a Honeycomb desktop, I agree with Apple COO Tim Cook: it looks like an overblown cell phone screen.

Surely there's a balance to be struck between an expensive powerful PC and a fun, cheap, well-designed, gadget-filled mobile device. The Xoom wasn't able to strike this balance, but whoever can will surely reap a large share of the profit.