Are the competitors now offering great bargains, or were the originals priced as rip offs?
According to sources talking to channel retailers, several tablet PC players including RIM, HTC, Lenovo, and ViewSonic, have dropped their 7-inch tablet PC prices to compete against Amazon’s Kindle Fire, priced at $199.
Lenovo has announced a new IdeaPad tablet with a 7-inch screen and Google’s Android OS in response to the surge in demand for inexpensive tablets; it launched with an initial price of $199 but is now at $249. HTC cut their price on the 7-inch Android 2.3-based Flyer tablet to $299. Hoping to gain some traction in the holiday season, RIM dramatically dropped the price of their PlayBook tablet in North America from $500 to $199. ViewSonic’s 7-inch 8 GB ViewBook 730 is now just $151.
Because of the price pressure from Amazon, some of the brand vendors are halting their 7-inch tablet PC projects. Dell is giving up on the Streak and taking a very hard look at Android. HP famously dumped its TouchPad, based on WebOS, and then announced it was making WebOS open source. In the 10-inch space, and tablets in general, the iPad is still expected to outsell other tablets this year. According to Gartner nearly 64 million tablets will be sold worldwide by the end of the year. Some 73% of them will be iPads. By Gartner’s estimate, Apple will sell 47 million iPads this year—a figure it could certainly achieve, given that it sold 25 million of them by the end of September.
Apple owns the market
Apple might just as well have copyrighted the word “tablet” as most people think of iPads when they hear tablets. At this stage of the market, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for companies to try and sell tablets purely for the profit margin because, well there isn’t any. The trick is to have a store.
HP thought they had an avenue via the WebOS. Amazon has a digital store for books and music and a direct line to their customers’ pocketbooks. And Apple showed ‘em how it’s done, but not everyone has gotten the lesson. —J.P.