Aside from struggling to be something more than the next luxury gadget, tablets have struggled with relatively high price points since their modern rebirth. The original iPad was released last April and started at $499, ranging up to $829. For customers who have been used to paying $300 or less for a subsidized phone and roughly $200 to $400 for a do-it-all MP3 player, the lowest price point of the iPad was a tough knot to swallow for anyone. But for some, the device itself was just too sweet to pass up.
We've since been introduced to all sorts of different tablets varying in size, price and form factor, made by many different manufacturers. Thus far, the tablet market is completely and entirely dominated by Apple. The latest market share report claimed that the Cupertino-based company had 73 percent of the market in their pocket and should retain between 70 and 80 percent throughout the remainder of the year.
Beginning in February, Android entered the scene, seemingly ready to compete. The Motorola XOOM was the first tablet supported by Google and their latest tablet-optimized operating system, Honeycomb. Problem is, that specific tablet was introduced at an outstanding price of $800 plus tax. Of course, you could pay $600 to get the thing on a two-year contract. I'm almost certain that tens of thousands of would-be buyers held off form something more appropriately priced.
Fortunately, the tablet market may be on the verge of becoming more wallet-friendly across the board. The first indication of this comes with the first tablet from the increasingly popular company that started the netbook trend. ASUS surprised everyone when they announced their unique pair of tablets back at CES. They caught everyone off guard once again when they announced the starting price point for the Eee Pad Transformer. Beginning at $400, you can make a 16GB Transformer your very own and for an extra $100, that tablet will come with 32GB of storage space.
But that is only the beginning. Acer has also launched a tablet, the Iconia Tab which runs for $450. Rumors of the upcoming Toshiba Thrive slate price their tab at an impressive $450, and we now expect the Amazon tablets to come in around the holiday season for a jaw-dropping $350 and $450. What's even more interesting is that all of these tablets seem to be on par with the Motorola XOOM, spec-wise, and the "Hollywood" ($450) slate from Amazon is believed to come with an impressive quad-core processor, likely from NVIDIA. Rather than these remarkably affordable tablets being bottom-of-the-bucket as one would expect, they're actually pushing the envelope and will be sporting the best of the best in terms of specifications.
This, for one, is going to make for a tough time for Apple as they have already shown that $500 is their baseline price and will likely prove to be as low as they will go in the future. Luckily for them, they have and will always have a large number of faithful followers who are willing to pay a premium price for their products. But considering how competitive the market already is, these manufacturers undercutting the competition by a few hundred dollars and still offering a high quality product will undoubtedly be well-received by consumers around the globe. It will also likely be reflected by a large rise in market share.
What say you? Will Android's Law make a difference in the tablet space? Are these lower prices here to stay? Or will cutting-edge technology eventually force tablets back into the $600 range?