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Back in 2010, Apple announced its first tablet device - the iPad. The initial reaction was not great, but later the tablet proved to be a big hit. Then it was known by the name of "Giant iPod Touch". As this category matured with time, Apple seriously promoted this device by adding more and more features.
No one exactly knew how an iPad (a mere tablet) dented PC sales. The big PC vendors like HP and Dell witnessed steep fall in their revenues all because of iPad. Microsoft was playing safe with Windows 7. But soon the software giant realized to launch Windows 8, a brand new OS to revive flagging PC sales. However, reports suggest that neither Windows 8 succeeded nor players like Dell are coming back on track. Although , it is too early to say that Microsoft's Windows 8 is a big failure , but one thing is clear as we are moving towards ‘ connected devices' ; PCs have to die sooner or later.
Talking about Apple iPad and we forgot to include Google's Android OS. Is it possible? The answer is No - Because Android has become as mature iOS. In the same year when Steve Jobs announced iPad, another giant, Google was also hoping to make big in the tablet arena. Android 3.0 was released in 2010.
This Android version was specifically designed for tablet devices. However, early Android tablets featuring Android 3.0 failed miserably. At CES 2011, Sanjay Jha then CEO of Motorola Mobility announced Xoom, the first tablet device with Android 3.0. It bombed without making any fuss. Again iPad won against Android.
During those days, Samsung was still finding its voice in the western market. Although, the company was getting right amount of footage by making Android powered smartphones, still tablet market was in the hands of Apple.
In 2010, Apple tablet market share was 82 % (Source - Canaccord Genuity). Samsung was way below with 11 %. In the second quarter of 2011, Apple once again emerged as a winner with 68.3 %.According to ABI research, the Cupertino-based tech giant held 55 % market share, while Android rose to 44 %. Players such as Asus, Acer, Amazon and even Samsung for that matter have started to conquer lower end of the market with affordable 7-inch tablets.
After the failure of Honeycomb, Google shifted to same old formula i.e. all Android OS powered tablet and smartphones would be running on "one single platform". Due to lower priced tablet, Android is now equivalent to Apple, when it comes to tablets. Google also ventured into hardware with Nexus range. The Nexus 7, a 7-inch HD tablet was announced last year.
The tablet manufactured by Asus is one among the bestsellers around the world. Tech vendors like Asus and Amazon are selling decent quality tablets for less than $200(Rs. 11,879) in the International markets. On the other hand, an iPad (basic model) still costs $499(Rs.29,797), a way expensive than Google's Nexus 7. In an unexpected move, Microsoft also started to sell Surface range of tablets, which is again made Apple to rethink its own strategies. Not only Microsoft but other tech vendors are trying their best to crush Apple with convertibles and Hybrid like devices.
To woo lower end of the market, the makers behind iPhone introduced iPad Mini. It's a small sized iPad with lower grade processor and even price wise it costs way less than iPad. The tech giant was criticized for charging more from consumers.
This year Apple is preparing next -generation iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2. Both tablet devices are expected to debut later this year. The iPad 5 is said to resemble the iPad Mini. There are reports in place, which gave us insights about design. The sequel to iPad 4 will retain 9.7-inch Retina Display. Apple will introduce A7 processor. The new version of iOS was introduced last month at WWDC. The iPad Mini 2 is expected to get Retina Display with better processor and lower price tag.
In this feature, we have explicitly talked about five main challenges for Apple. Let's have a look at the sliders below to understand how other tech vendors are creating problems for Tim Cook.
Growth of Samsung
In the past few days, Samsung has come up with low-end to high -end tablets. Most of them are running on Google's Android OS. The biggest highlight with each Samsung manufactured tablet is the attractive price and features. The Samsung shares coordinal relationship with Google, so all tablets comes with the latest version of Android. The South Korean giant success is all because of Android. In India, the cheapest Samsung tablet sells for as low as Rs. 10,000 (via online retailers). On the other hand, an iPad Mini costs Rs. 21,900 for Wi-Fi version only. Samsung makes all types of tablets - Windows 8 powered Ativ range to S Pen equipped Note series to Galaxy Tab range. Samsung is working on a 12.2-inch tablet for Q3 2013.
Rise of low cost tablets
The influx of 7-inch tablets started in early 2012. Online retailers like Amazon, who were already known for Kindle ebook readers ventured into tablet market. Due to affordable price, kindle Fire became instant with American consumers. Now Amazon is selling its tablet devices around the world including India. Google launched Nexus 7 in collaboration with Asus. They succeeded on the grounds of powerful hardware (in comparison to iPad Mini) and lower price tag also benefited. In markets like India, tech vendors like Micromax, Karbonn, Zync and many others are offering ultra low priced 7-inch tablets for Rs.7000. Most of these tablets are based on Android.
Android OS – A Big Threat To iOS
Industry analysts' believe that due to Google's open nature, Android OS would kill Apple in the tablet game. Now Android boasts Play Store, an equivalent to App store. The best selling apps are now available on Play Store at the same time they hit App store. Another big difference between Play store and App store is the regional content, which is missing from Apple controlled App store. At the same time, quality of apps on Play Store has drastically improved. Every Android powered tablet packs all necessary Google apps.
Convertibles / Hybrids
In the coming days, we will be seeing hell lot of devices featuring dual OS running at the same time. Tech vendors like HP has already announced a hybrid tablet. These tablets support Android and Windows 8 with price starting as low as Rs. 25,000 internationally. Microsoft is aggressively promoting its Surface range of tablets. In the coming days, we could an affordable Surface tablet designed and manufactured by Microsoft. Acer has just launched world's first 8 -inch tablet to take on iPad Mini in India. It can run MS Office, which is a plus point in comparison to Apple promoted iPad.
Google Android Books
The tech world has seen how in less than 2 years Google controlled tablet market. Now as per a new report, HP is working in Android powered notebooks. These notebooks could use Intel Atom processor. Right now, it is too early to comment upon the specifications, but Android powered notebooks are coming later this year. They won't cost much. It is also said that Google is also making its own Android based notebook.