02
Mar
tabletshakeup

While we at Android Police don't exactly wait with bated breath to hear what Steve Jobs has to say at Apple announcements like the one for the iPad 2 today, we would be fooling ourselves to pretend that Apple products don't directly affect the market for Android devices. While an Android fan's first reaction to the latest iAnnouncement is often to (understandably) bash the smooth-talking fruit company from Cupertino, I believe that today's events could shake up the tablet market for the better.

The hardware of the iPad 2 is hardly a game-changer. They didn't upgrade their display from the first generation iPad (which always looked a little bit pixelated to me), though they did make it thinner and lighter. They added a front facing camera, a faster, dual-core processor, and the expected dose of cool buzz-words and trash talking of competitors (digs were taken at the XOOM's price and the small amount of Honeycomb-specific apps available). Stevie even tried to frame the iPad 2 as the "first dual core tablet to ship in volume," which seems like a bit of marketing wordplay. In other words, they did all of the things that Apple does best. It will work just fine: millions will be sold, Android loyalists will fume, and Apple fans will be happy and feel cool. In other words, it will be business as usual.

But it wasn't the iPad 2's presentation today that will change things, it was another announcement that could go almost unnoticed next to their newest, shiniest iProduct. What was it? The precipitous drop in price of the original iPad to $399. This could have enormous repercussions in the tablet market as a whole.

tabletshakeup

Performance-wise, some of the Android tablets released over the last four or five months have been very impressive. We Android fans tend to appreciate specs and performance, and most of the major Android slates have delivered. The Galaxy Tab was a solid start in a smaller form factor, the XOOM is a geek's dream machine, the LG G-slate matches that and will add 3D to the mix, and the HTC Flyer is going in a completely different direction - toting a stylus and sporting the HTC Sense overlay. Android fans have been given great hardware and a variety of options that will only continue to grow.

What those loyal to Google's OS have not been given as much of is a competitive pricing point on these tablets. The Galaxy Tab debuted at $600, the XOOM a staggering $800 off-contract, and it looks like LG's slate will be in the $700 range (no details as of yet on the Flyer's cost). The biggest factor driving these absurd costs is that the tablet manufacturers are apparently making deals with wireless carriers that prevent us from getting Wi-Fi-only options out of the gate.

It seems clear that the marketing strategy of Android slate makers all starts with looking at what Apple is doing. They look at Apple's offerings, improve on the specs, raise the prices a bit, and put them on the shelves. Up to this point, what Apple was doing was selling a tablet that started at $500 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model. Today, Apple is now selling that very same tablet for $100 less. This is what the Motorolas, Samsungs, and the LGs of the world will be forced to acknowledge and react to. Why? Because tablet customers will now have that option on the table. They will buy it, and many will turn down Android tablets in favor of the more economical, well-known and loved iPad.

Up to this point, the only tablets priced below $500 were either mid-grade attempts from lesser manufacturers (Viewsonic, Archos), or a $250 eReader that needs to be hacked in order to provide the functionality of an entry-level tablet (ala the Nook Color). While techies can get excited to greater or lesser degrees about these options, they don't do much to affect the market as a whole.

With the iPad priced at $400 (even though it is the previous generation model), the most popular tablet by a very large margin has now broken that $500 barrier. To your average customer, Motorola is looking pretty bad now with its $800 XOOM. 3D is fine and dandy, but $700 ain't gonna cut it, LG. You can bet that the decision-makers at these major corporations were paying close attention today, and if they don't adapt, their tablets may be doomed to a fringe existence, mere wanna-bes watching Apple dance at the Prom while they sit alone popping their pimples.

How will this play out? Nobody knows for sure yet, but I see the iPad 1's price drop as being the first major assault on the ridiculous pricing of Android tabs we have been forced, and apparently will continue, to deal with. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the execs at Motorola, Samsung, LG, etc. will be paying attention and making wise decisions.

Will Shanklin
Will's typical, run-of-the-mill story is that of 'classically-trained actor turned Android smartphone and tablet writer.' If you catch him quoting Shakespeare, it's not because he misses it, but because he desperately wants his Masters in drama to count towards something.

Sir William dwelleth in the fair haven
Chicago; with his fair maid'n Jess and his
trusty cur, Ziggy.
  • http://nihondroid.blogspot.com Chokkan

    Yes, that was my first thought. Why would anyone with no real loyalty pay so much more for an Android device when they can get 2 first gen iPads for the same price?

    Your point about wifi models is interesting. In Japan, the XOOM will be released wifi-only from the start with no 3G at all. It is competing, course with the iPad, and also with the Optimus Pad. The price for the wifi-only XOOM hasn't been announced yet, but I'd really like to get one.

  • ressandeys

    I think a $399 tablet with the apps to support it is a huge thing. Like you said, why would your average consumer buy a Xoom at $599 or $799 when they can get a perfectly good iPad for $399? This is my huge problem with all these OEMs trying to make tablets and go after Apple. Why can't Moto/Samsung..ANYONE make a 16GB/WiFi only tablet at that price point? They'd be flying out the door. No, though. They have to take the Moto approach and come out with a cool (yet not proven) product like the Xoom at $799. I was willing to buy one, but at that price? I can buy a laptop. Android tablet manufacturers are purposefully trying to force people to buy iPads. What other reason can you think of them setting their products at that top-tier price point?!

    • Beaker151

      Viewsonic has had their gtablet out for a few months. Its 16gb wifi only, tegra 2 processor with ports and sells for $380. it is easy to mod, has good dev support. Granted it runs 2.2 at this time. In my opinion its far better deal than a discounted ipad.

  • Jom

    "...raise the price a bit". Lol. Quite the understatement.

  • http://www.brandonvfletcher.com Brandon

    It probably because none of the OEMs have a proper retail channel. Apple has the Apple Store. Their margins are paper thin. These OEMs seem to have no choice but to go in business with the carriers instead of Target, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. Maybe Google should build an Android retail store (i know. thats not happening). Instead of trying to beat Apple with specs (driving up price), Maybe they should cut some things just to get price down. Seems like Samsung is trying that with the Tab 2 (no SD slot).

    • ressandeys

      There isn't anything outstanding in the Xoom that warrents the $799 price. That's what's baffling. The price of the Xoom will be its undoing and Moto's gonna learn a hard lesson (plus with iPad 2 coming out). Google will never build a retail store. The manufacturers just need to sell their tablets direct at Best Buy's/Amazon/etc just to get them in people's hands. Honeycomb is awesome, but what good is it if no one's buying the tablets?

      • http://www.brandonvfletcher.com Brandon

        $799 is not overpriced. The iPad equivalent is around the same price. The problem is perceived value which is what Apple is good at. They are even selling a $40 HDMI dongle which makes the prices of the 2 even more matched. Without a Wifi only option and less storage, of course it seems overpriced.

        • Dan

          Perception is reality, and the fact remains that you can't get buy a xoom for 500 while you can for an Ipad. Android needs a tablet at that "magical" $500 price point. Best buy is sells the xoom to their employees for $577 i.e. there cost. Android can never succeed if their flagship model is $800.

        • dano

          $799 is CRAZY overpriced! And you have to buy an HDMI cable for the damn Xoom as well if you want to use pump video out to an HDMI display...
          Apple sure knows what they are doing...
          All I am waiting for now is the day Apple decides to do flash on the iPad...(That dual core A5 processor should be up to the task) Android better pray that day never comes because if it does...its game over for all the competition!

    • http://www.toysdiva.com PixelSlave

      Operating the retail stores is a costly operation by itself. In fact, one could argue that Apple, by operating its store, may potentially reduce its profit margin (although they could probably benefit from increased revenue.)

      Retail stores sometimes are willing to sell at a loss because once you walk into the store, they can lure you to buy other stuffs that have higher profit margin.

    • Stuart

      In the UK the xoom is about to be sold via direct sellers, best buy,carphone warehouse and pcworld/dixons- and for a lot more than in the USA!
      I'm afraid it's just greed, thinking they can get top dollar for the devices.

    • ari-free

      Vizio will make android tablets and sell them to zillions of walmart customers dirt cheap. That's how they beat everyone to be #1 in TV's. That's how android will win marketshare in tablets.
      But someone has to innovate and be the best.

  • yen

    Maybe Apple told Verizon, if you sell other tabs less then $800 you will be cut from our vendors list. Becaue Apple can, so Verizon listen.

  • yen

    The tablets and smart phones market is not a zero-sum games. In the end each OEMs will have it's share of market but not at expenses of Apple.

  • http://sweb froyo

    buying xoom without contract for $450. no thanks for more that that

    • acupunc

      You really think Motorola can sell a product that cost them $350 to make for $450 and turn a profit?

      The screen and memory are making up 60% of the device's cost right now. Until those drop in price significantly we aren't going to be seeing high quality tablets for $450.

      • Dan

        The Xoom costs them about $270 in parts. It's that multi-million dollar marketing campaign that's driving up the price.

        • brad

          Um, how much does it cost apple to make and IPAD. they have a multi million dollar campaign.

          Anyway, this isnt about the cost, this is about having the choice.
          Well is the wifi version. I agree that the xoom is way over priced.

          But you have to blame greed and verizon.

  • ari-free

    I think the Android OEM's wanted to prove that they could beat not just the specs of the original iPad but even the ipad2 before it launched. This was an important achievement because they need techie enthusiast mindshare. Now that they have proved their point, they will probably come out with more practical, lower cost models.

  • rye&ginger

    Apparently the Xoom is bad at playing video, it stutters on HD files. Its being sold as a high end device but that is not high end performance. I want an Android tablet but I am in no rush and expect better ones to come out later this year.

    ipad 2....a bunch of icons on the homescreens is really lame. That is not multitasking like honeycomb can do with its rich interactive widgets. Its still noting more than a big ipod touch.

    • brad

      I saw a xoom playing a HD video back and it was flawless. So not sure what was up with that xoom. could of been the file itself.

      • dano

        I have a xoom and have been looking all over the internet to find out how to encode them to work...cant get a straight answer... I've tried playing some 720p videos and it sucks.

        • PeterF

          My Desire Z plays H.264 MP4 files the best and most easily. Have you tried that?

        • yen

          I have been using Moyea Blu-Ray Video Converter Ultimate to convert to iPad and now to Xoom have no problem. Xoom play h.264 file in 720p and 1080p very well.

        • dano

          Thanks...I tried some h264 mp4 files that play on my appletv....studder on the xoom. I have some older h264 files with a lower bitrate that play fine but look horrible on that display.

          I'd like to know what the bit rate limitations are, etc...

          I've used handbrake to encode DVDs using the AppleTV preset...should work on the xoom but doesnt seem to.

        • yen

          @dano
          Please see screen prints of setting here:
          http://s614.photobucket.com/albums/tt228/yen10579/?start=0

  • brad

    If a android tablet is $500 and the only way to get it at that price is buy a two year data contract, screw it. Im not doing it.

    I want samsung, motorola, and LG to give us options. Wifi, 3g, or 4g.

    I simply want choices. And unfortunately apple is the only one giving choices.

  • iAndows7

    Manufacturers are killing themselves by aligning with the wireless carriers. Delaying the WiFi only version for a few months is enough to make buys look elsewhere. And when it does come out, something better is out there so they expect more.

  • Ed

    Google should make a developer tablet analogous to Nexus One & Nexus S. Nexus Tab, anybody?

    • Mike

      they should buy notionink and sell the "nexus adam" table straight to usa market, a good campain showing strong points and sell it throgh mayor retail store "walmart, bestbuy, target,"

  • Disappointed

    I am a loyal android person, but it is getting hard to stay that way. Price, updates, and no carrier contract is something Android manufactures need a lesson on. I think for the first time I am going to buy an Apple product and that makes me sad. But I am a technology geek and I am not signing up for a 2 year contract, waiting 6 months for an update or paying up the wazoo just to hear that something better has come out 6 months later. I want a tablet and Apple is in the lead right now.

    • brad

      Do I ever agree with that statement. I hate apple with a passion. And Im doing all I can to wait on decent choices of android tablets. Its seems that apple, by far, is doing everything right for the consumer. Android with the huge delays of updates making it to phones, the fragmentation, the carrier and maker bloat ware. Android is really beginning to look like vaporware. Just like apple suggested.

      • Tyler

        Hell yeah, i really dont want an ipad but they seam to be getting everything right. Im hoping the Xoom drops in price. I hate to say it.. but price and WiFi only tablets delays is what bugs me more.

        • Edd

          I join the camp of Apple-haters who could be tempted to drop money on an iPad (v1) right now. I'm going to hold off a few months, or not bother at all, but the manufacturers need to get a grip on their pricing if they want any level of traction.

        • Mike

          we have to amited jobs is getting it rigth that's what he's best at. I'm not a apple fan but maybe a jailbreak ipad 2 will do the work .. I want honeycomb on my ipad 2 will it be possible?

    • Kindroid

      You guys need to hang in there. A few months is going to make a big difference in the Android tablet market. Unless your planning on buying a new tablet every year, don't saddle yourself with the iPad 2. Do you really want to live with no Flash? 4g? Honeycomb? Fantastic browser in Honeycomb?

      • easyeasy

        It is getting tough, but I am holding out for the quadcores

  • http://None Swaper

    > I love ipad 2's hardware
    > I absolutely despise the kiddish sticker laden like iOS homescreen and lack of widgets
    > I hate XOOM's pricing and weight
    > App Store is light years ahead of Android Marketplace in terms of apps quality

    Gist:
    I want App Store quality apps running on Honeycomb OS and Apple ipad2 hardware. Give me such a tablet and I will buy it.

  • Lou

    I would love to see a Nexus tab!!

  • Kindroid

    If Motorola can reduce the price to $450.00 for a XOOM at Best Buy without losing money on it, they should. For at least as long as it takes the ipad 1 to sell out. Probably the best promotion dollars they could spend. Grab some market share. Get developers something to sell to.

    • Mike

      i think motorola should go back to the design table " Atrix is a great product but xoom really sucks ... even if they set the price to 450 I would not mind . Xoom is bulcky.. I went to best buy with the money to buy the xoom but i was really disapointed by xoom hardware.

      • SiliconAddict

        Says someone who never intended to buy a Xoom to begin with. I smell troll. The hardware is just as good as the current iPad 2. The size is a nonisue for all but i Tards. I mean you have the Xoom as .5" and the iPad2 at .34" and the original iPad at .52" And of course everyone was complaining about the original ipad's size. Oh wait....no they weren't. Its only i tards who are coming out of the woodworks now that are screaming that the Xoom is too big.

  • Kindroid

    Really. For the sake of a hundred dollars you would give up and much speedier processor, dual camera, HDTV connections to buy an iPad 1. Boy a fool and his money.

  • Matt

    I honestly don't see this as Apple doing what's right, I just see a bunch of tabs with Android doing everything wrong. Apple is being competent in terms of choice in the iPad, while selling the same "so easy my dog can use it, as long as he doesn't want to change his background" software that Apple is known for.

    Android, however, seems to be floundering about, not really sure what to do with itself. They want to innovate and have a better experience than Apple and all competition, but at twice the price. Even as a fAndroid, I see no incentive to buy an Android tablet at that price. Regardless of whether or not it's overpriced, $800 is a lot of money to drop on a new toy.

    Not to mention, an impartial consumer will not want to pay $300 - $400 more for something less popular, with markedly less apps, but does widgets and live wallpaper. And, honestly, neither would I. Says the guy who bought the G1 and Nexus One the day they came out. :/

  • chrispy

    Agree, like it or not even the ipad 2 slaps all android tablets when it comes to price. I never understood android tablet manufacturers logic. of spec bumping the ipad1 then charging almost twice the cost. I love androids but the hardware for the most part is killing the O/S and the price is killing the rest. How are you gonna let apple undercut you?

  • Kevin

    I think you hit the nail on the head! The thing is, moto or sam, ect. Can come out with a killer tablet sporting great hardware but your avg person is going for price! Also Apple has done a great job of brainwashing the masses.

  • CHEKORAMA

    ok ,apple fanboys painted green out of the closet and go tou buy your cheaper ipads without flash,sd card,4g,less resolution screen,usb and dependent on a PC.

  • yen

    US wireless carries are too powerful, no company except Apple have any cloud over which or when a device will be available on their network. I don't see any changes in the near future unless enough of us to lobby the Congress to demand changes.

  • http://tabletconnect.blogspot.com TabletConnect

    We at TabletConnect have been making the argument against tablets being priced higher than Apple for a long time. Whether you love or hate Apple, they are a premium brand... for many reasons. In order for any tablet manufacturer to effectively compete against Apple, it must be done on price. These companies will fail if they price it higher than Apple. (Motorola yes you.) The disadvantage Android has is that every tablet is basically the same. We all know that tablets will have Honeycomb, sport dual core processors, can render HD videos, have at least one camera, 1GB RAM, etc. Its a commodity. Competing on price and extrafeatures will separate the winners from the losers. Check my blog for more info. Follow me on twitter @tabletconnect

  • wpfn

    I would like to add that I have the g tab. Thanks to the folks over at XDA, the OS is awesome and as for the hardware, it's matching up quite well with the xoom (exceeding some benchmarks) for about half the money. Anyone smart enough to google can figure out how to "hack" the device and load a new rom over the subpar manufacturers version. I'm extremely pleased with the hardware at this price point. ($379)

    • Tulpa

      Unfortunately, googling "viewsonic g tablet" still brings up a slew of negative reviews from when it came out last year with the original, terrible, slow Tap N Tap interface. You and I know that Viewsonic has mostly fixed the stock interface to the point where it functions decently, and with about 20 minutes of work a marginally technical person can install a custom ROM that turns it into one of the fastest tablets on the market...but most potential buyers don't.

  • Hirudin

    Aren't there a couple sub-$500 android tablets out there? There's the Dell Streak 7 with (unless I'm mistaken) a dual core Tegra 2 and the Adam as well.

  • DingieM

    Good for competition, drives the price down.

    I suggest hold out until after march 22. Anyone who can't wait should review their lives because a tablet will not save the day...

    Curious why only Xoom and LG is mentioned, while the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 is very very interesting :-)

    • SiliconAddict

      Samsung isn't mentioned because no one wants to deal with a company who is going to abandon their hardware after one OS update. (If you are lucky.) And before you think I'm blowing things out of proportion. Look at their track record for buggy, late, and in some cases nonexistent updates. Its not as if I'm pulling this out of nowhere.

      Again Samsung: Great hardware. **** software support. Anyone who buys their crap at this point after they time and again lie to their user base, deserves to be pointed at and laughed at. How many times do you cattle need to be screwed over before you get it. In many cases you are worse then Apple fans. They may follow their precious Apple blindly, but even Apple doesn't screw their user base over as bad as Samsung.

      • James Dwight

        Motorola is no better with updates. A lot of their phones (including mine) were released with 2.1 and will forever be held there without any updates.

        https://supportforums.motorola.com/community/manager/softwareupgrades

        With iProducts you get updates, but with Android they are hard to get.

        • brad

          XOOM is a pure google product. So the OTA updates will come as soon as google decides to release it just as with the Nexus S and Nexus One. I have the nexus one and always get the updates as soon as they are released.

  • Corey

    just announced on the news that a 3rd gen Ipad coming in Oct this year and as far as Motorola goes i will never buy another one

  • danbutter

    I fully agree with $800 being waaaaaaaay too much for something like this.

    I'm just hoping that toshiba (see http://www.thetoshibatablet.com ) has been waiting for this info to come out and when they come to market with their tab it will price match the ipad.
    Otherwise I'll be sticking with the nook color as i won't buy anything apple. Just not a fan.

  • brad

    I havent heard anyone mention Iconia. Whats everyone think about that tablet/laptop.

    Im considering it.

  • Mark S

    If you want to knock of the existing leader, you need to be better AND cheaper, not better OR cheaper. Basic marketing that the OEM's seem to be forgetting.

    • SiliconAddict

      No what the OEMs are thinking is they can get some people to pay these insane rates for their devices, then drop the price of the device in 2 months after demand slows. If they had the Xoom at $399 they could never meet demand anyways. But at $800 they know there will be a handful of users who will spend that kind of money (I'm on the fence right now.) which will recoup some of their R&D.
      The Problem is Moto and HTC are thinking like dumb***ed phone manufacturers when it comes to prices. If they don't act like computer manufactures long term Apple IS going to hand them their butts. But for right now this is purely a new tech tax. These devices are the only Android 3.0 devices on the market. If you want it, you gotta pay. But in 4 months? There are going to be a handful and the uniqueness will be gone.

  • Butch2054

    I have been ready to purchase a tablet, but with the new pricing from Apple, it is hard not to go with the flow. Apple Store has a refurnished department that you can get Ipad 1 for $349.00 16G with the same warranty as new. If only the Android Manufactures would reduce their unit pricing now and quickly, to complete with Apple. Like Samsung or Dell,I would purchase those units preferably ..........

  • max

    The xoom is ridiculously ove priced. Every step forward Apple make Android seems to take a much larger one.

  • Jer

    After comparing the Xoom and iPad 1 at BB for a good while the other day, I came away fairly unimpressed with the Xoom. Granted, I think it had a lot to do with the $800 price tag (which, when you think of it, would put you out the door close to a grand with a few accessories and tax).

    Right now, you can get a iPad 1 factory re-certified from Apple for $349. However, price is just one factor. What the Android folks need to realize is that quality Apps are what will eventually either make or break Android tablets. I've owned a Droid X phone since launch after having an iPhone 3GS for a year, and am still extremely disappointed with the applications available. The Android market is still laughable compared to Apple's app store. I think the ratio of quality apps is nearly 5:1 in favor of Apple.

    I hope I'm wrong, because Apple needs real competition, but the $800 Xoom isn't it.

    • SiliconAddict

      Jer, you are wrong. That really is all that needs to be said. You obviously haven't been looking at the right apps on Android. Granted I can't fault you for that since tyhe market is still a massive POS. But there are plenty of apps out there that rival anything that is on the iPhone and in some cases are identical to the ones on the iphone and in other cases are better then on the iPhone. The simple fact is the scope and variety of apps on Android kicks iOS's ass because Apple refuses to allow apps that compete with built in iPhone apps. And that is what is going to kill them in the end.
      I'd sooner live without a tablet or Phone then ever used a restricted device like the crap Apple offers.

  • Mikestroh

    I'm still holding out for the Toshiba "Antares" tablet as well....it has all of the features I want (Full HDMI & SD Card) Capability and it will more than likely have the best picture quality amongst the other Honeycomb competitors.....all they need to do is price it to the IPAD1 (wifi only) and it will sell like hotcakes...I want features for my dollars.

    • SiliconAddict

      Isn't that also the tablet that doesn't have the android market?

  • Chopper Joe

    What I don't get: I was given a nookColor for Christmas. Even unrooted, it has basic tablet functions as well as being a great eReader. The hardware has the makings of a pretty decent tablet for $250 retail. It is missing some features but adding them should still keep price below $300.

    So, why can't some manufacturers provide a less expensive Android tablet?

    Personally, I'm going to stick with the nC and wait for Android offerings to mature.

  • SiliconAddict

    Its a moot point. Apple will discontinue gen1 in within 6 months. How do I know? Simple. Apple is about making as much cash as possible. Having a cheaper option will cannibalize iPad 2 sales. As such this is purely a clear out the inventory maneuver.

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