The past two weeks have been very important for the tablet world. With the launch of the XOOM, the introduction of Google's tablet version of Android, and the announcement and short wait period for the iPad 2, a lot of things have changed in a very short time period. Unsurprisingly, it is believed by some that Android will dominate the tablet market by 2014. My question is, why would it even take that long?
Most of us believed we were going to see the first real iPad contender before the end of 2010, but the Galaxy Tab somewhat fell short of expectations. Neither the PlayBook or TouchPad made it to market in time either. So Q1 2011 became the target time frame for us to expect a serious tablet throwdown.
Here we are in March and we have just witnessed the unearthing of the first Android tablet contender, almost a year after the original iPad's release. The majority of this delay has been due to the lack of a tablet-optimized version of Android. Manufacturers didn't want to take the leap (and fall short) like Samsung did with putting Froyo on a tablet. They've been waiting patiently on the release of Honeycomb and the XOOM. Now that they're both here, the tablet market will soon be saturated with little green robots.
During this year of nothing but rumors and lack of competition, Apple has racked up on sales and taken over. They have sold over 15 million iPads total. Impressive, to say the least. Back in November, Apple controlled 95% of the tablet market. I imagine that will soon change as things heat up, but Android and friends have a lot of ground to make up. Apple has several things going for them that are sure to slow the tablet onslaught from completely taking over: a huge following, their ecosystem, vertical integration, and a major head start on tablet-specific or tablet-optimized applications.
Even so, I don't think it's going to take Android until 2014 to take over the market. While vertical integration may be a great thing for Apple, it means there is only one tablet being made in a limited number of configurations – usually once per year. There will be eight or more manufacturers making Android tablets.
This has been an issue in the past due to custom user interfaces and fragmentation, but it will likely be less of a problem in the tablet space. Google has polished nearly every aspect of the OS and made it into a desktop-like experience. It no longer needs a custom interface. In fact, I prefer this interface over any Android interface I've used to date and I believe most others will, too. This should indirectly address some of the issues with fragmentation and slow updates.
Another thing that comes to mind is Android's Law. Where Apple is stuck making nearly every aspect – top to bottom – of the iPad, Android tablet manufacturers only have to worry about the design and the internals for their tablets. Many of which, they purchase from other companies like Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, etc. The OS is ready-made. Meaning, they have more time and resources to fuel into making (dare I say) better hardware.
Also, with each manufacturer offering different models that are bound to come in different sized packages, with varying price points, and varying specifications, there is a choice. Tablets are not one-size-fits-all. If the 9.7-inch iPad doesn't suit your needs, Android, with its handful of manufacturers, will be sure to help you find which size fits best.
You may recall back when Chikita predicted that Android would surpass the iPhone in US market share in February 2012. In actuality, that happened 13 months ahead of time, and only three weeks after that prediction was made. Android ousted RIM from their long US market share reign, too, jumping from 26% to 29% market share in two months' time. Not to mention, Android has also booted Symbian from it's throne and taken the title as top smartphone platform in the world.
When you consider these impressive feats, all of the manufacturers in the Android pool, and the wildfire that this market has become, it only makes sense that Android will dominate the tablet world in due time. And from what I've learned to expect from little Andy, it will likely happen sooner rather than later.