Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sizing up the iPad 2 vs. Other Tablets

Since Apple launched the iPad, the tablet market has become red hot with competition. To be fair, the perceived improvements on iPad technology that the competition has been able to bring about has happened because the Apple iPad set the standard and the competition simply had to find the areas where they could improve on what was already a groundbreaking product.

iPad 2- the market leader
From a customer perspective, however, if one of the big competitors to the iPad 2 can put a product on the market that is superior, they deserve to capture that business. Apple is a tough competitor, so with the iPad 2 hitting the market, the competition is going to have an even tougher competitor from the computer giant.

The big competitors for the iPad market are the RIM Blackberry Playbook, the HP TouchPad, the Samsung Galaxy Pad 10.1, and the Motorola Xoom. From the price perspective, Apple has the ability to keep the iPad 2 so cost competitive that none of the major competitors have been able to beat them there at launch.  Many competitors, including HP and Motorola have reduced their prices in order to gain momentum in the Tablet market.  Of course, the fire sale of the now discontinued HP TouchPad was highly successful, but it still doesn’t equate to beating iPad. Price may be a factor, but there are other ways that the iPad 2 is taking the competition to the market and putting their competitors on their heels.

Motorola Xoom was the first Android
dual core processor tablet.

The iPad 2 is about one-third thinner and lighter than the original iPad. The size of the iPad is a big area of competition as many of the other tablets out there are trim and tough, which makes them strong contenders for the college crowd. From a technical standpoint, the iPad has more onboard memory than the competition. Only the Xoom can get close and Motorola provides the ability to expand that memory, which is an advantage over the iPad but at an additional cost to the customers.

The processing power that the iPad 2 brings to the market is probably one of the advantages that will be tough to take on. The iPad 2 showcases the A5 dual-core processor, which is a breakthrough technology that Apple has tight control over. Because the A5 chip introduced dual processors, that opens the door for true multiprocessing at the tablet level. The lack of that was one of the big drawbacks about the first release of the iPad (earlier iPads can multi-task using iOS 4, albeit at a slower rate). Xoom was the first Android based tablet to offer a dual core processor for multii-tasking and has been heralded as being faster to manage different apps.

Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1
supports Adobe Flash.
The omission of Adobe Flash on the iPad 2 is a major letdown for many users, but Apple has been pretty clear that they have no intention of supporting flash on their iPhone or iPad devices.  These means that certain websites or web content will be inaccessible on the iPad.  Android and WebOS however, support Flash, meaning that you can browse Flash-based web content or play Flash developed games.

Other areas where the iPad was open to competitive improvement was the screen resolution and the availability of front and back cameras. With the iPad 2, the camera issue has been resolved, although some of the competitive tablets deliver a sharper webcam image. The screen resolution is still something Apple needs to address with future releases of the iPad product family.

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