The iPad’s Competitors Drop Like Flies. Actually, They Never Even Took Off.

The iPad is the king of tablets and might hold that title for years to come. However, there are a ton of alternatives that we’ve featured over the last few months… But since [then], a lot has changed and while some managed to make it to the market, others were delayed or scrapped entirely.

Nice article describing what’s happened to alleged iPad alternatives (are they called alternatives to recognize the iPad has no competitors?) in the last few months.

I’ve written the iPad has no “alternatives”, and CrunchGear makes it’s easy to see why. We can dismiss seven of them out of hand: 

  • ModBook – This is a MacBook reconfigured. A laptop with a desktop OS.
  • Viliv X70 – A tablet with a desktop OS (XP, no less).
  • Archos 9 – A tablet with a desktop OS.
  • Viliv S10 Blade – A “convertibile” device. Again, a laptop with a desktop OS.
  • Spring Design Alex – This is an eBook reader, what’s it doing here?
  • Lenovo Skylight – A netbook, not sure how it made even an exaggerated list of competitors.
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U1 – Another “convertibile” that comes apart. Desktop OS as PC, and maybe Android as a tablet?

Some of these are not even available, but even if they were they’re not iPad alternatives. They’re not iPad tablets in any sense. It’s not just about form, it needs a touch, not desktop, OS and apps. The human finger doesn’t have the precision for software written for the precision of a cursor tip. A stylus can address that, but styli are a big failure, no one wants them. Why would any hardware maker (or anyone else) ignore the decade of failure “desktop tablets” have had in the market? 

After weeding out the above, of the six remaining (I left the HP Slate because rumors say it won’t run a desktop OS), four of them—Notion Ink Adam, HP Slate, WeTab, and ExoPC—are nowhere to be found. These devices are delayed, or maybe even killed altogether. In any case, they can hardly be called alternatives now. They’re vapor, and I remain convinced the iPad will outsell vapor. 

So that leaves just two devices: the enTourage eDGe dualbook, which isn’t any good; and the Dell Streak, whose too-large-for-a-pocket but too-small-for-a-tablet form factor isn’t winning any converts, and it’s not yet available in the US. 

The tech press loves for Apple to have competition, and sometimes go out of their way to invent it. In the case of the iPad, however, it simply doesn’t exist. Not even close. Maybe by the end of the year, but certainly not now.

Forrester Research: Tablets Will Only Steal Sales From… Desktops?


What other conclusion can be drawn from the graph? From 2010, netbook sales barely change (18 to 17%), and laptops barely change (44 to 42%). With the tablet rising from 6 to 23%, it all comes out of desktop share (32 to 18%).


Forrester’s report is questionable right up front. It predicts sales of 3.5M tablets this year, and 20.4M in 2015. Those numbers are so low it’s ridiculous. Apple is already over 2M sales this year; Forrester thinks they can’t even double that by December 31? Thats nuts. Apple will hit 8M or more this year, and who knows what other tablet players will join the game in the coming months.

As for netbooks, I disagree their sales percentage will remain steady over the next five years. Their sales growth is already slowing. People are figuring out they’re not the “laptop” they promise to be. Netbooks have all the headaches of PCs without the size or power to have enough of the benefits. Cheap laptops make better sense, and a tablet even more-so. Netbooks’ day in the sun is nearing its end; I see a pretty small trickle five years hence. 

Regarding laptops, they’ll feel the pinch of tablets getting faster with more sophisticated software, which won’t take long. Look at where the software is already: iWork or Documents To Go productivity suites; Photogene for great image editing; Reel Director or iMovie for iPhone (iPad won’t be far behind) for video, etc. And these are here now, imagine what we’ll have in just a year. I could argue these apps are already close to doing what the majority of consumers need in these areas. There are certainly rough edges, but they’ll get smoothed. Laptops are going to feel the heat sooner than Forrester imagines.

I agree on desktops’ decline, but that’s already happening and has been for a while. Laptops have eaten their lunch in the past, but tablets will encroach on laptops as explained above. 

The tablet form factor is going to be huge. I’m already on record that it’s how “all” computers will work someday, and I don’t think critical mass will take as long as the GUI did, which is apparently what Forrester is expecting.

Just 20M tablets sold in 2015? They’ll pass that number in 2012. Netbook and laptop percentage will decline more than Forrester is predicting, and tablet percentages will be higher. Forrester’s report seems written to appease those vested in the status quo, but it doesn’t make it realistic.

My iPad vs. My MacBook: A Realization

It’s not forcing yourself to use a device that makes it part of what you do, it’s when you reach for something like the iPad involuntarily that you know it’s integrated itself comfortably into your life.

So true.

I let my daughter play with the iPad the other day—something I don’t do often because I have enough personal info on it to treat it private—and sat down in my office. Didn’t want to sit at the desk to read, so I decided to listen to music.

Only after putting headphones on did it occur to me that I have a MacBook I can use in the chair! Let’s see, where did I put it? Oh yes, behind the table next to the chair, on the floor, plugged in. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

It also occurred to me I haven’t brought my MacBook to Starbucks since I got the iPad. Further, on my recent trip to AZ I brought both devices, but the MacBook was never even taken out of the bag.

In short, I realized just how much I prefer the iPad for 90% of what I used the MacBook for. It’s a 13″ unibody that seems clumsy to me now. In fact, for most tasks it is clumsy compared to the iPad.

Bill Gates: Still clinging to a failed vision

“We’re all trying to get to something that you just love to take to a meeting and use and [the iPad] is not quite there yet. You need to have input. You need to take notes and edit things.

[Gates wants a device] “where I can use the pen, where I can use voice.”

This is just proof that, on a visionary scale of 1 to 10, Gates is a -2. After nearly a decade of his “vision” of tablet PCs failing miserably in the market place—in large due to his insistence that no specialIzed OS was needed—he still thinks they need pen input. This for a generation of users who input via keyboard 90% of the time.

Oh, and voice input, because you’ll want that in a meeting when taking notes.

Pen input isn’t going mainstream, there’s little need. Voice will be big, but we’re nowhere near that as a practical input method for the masses, so we may as well be talking about flying cars.

Anyone who thinks Microsoft would be better off with this guy in charge is ascribing to him talents he does not possess. He left when he saw where Microsoft was headed. They’re a two-hit wonder. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s all they’ll ever be, and are now at the point where all they can do is milk that out.

HP CEO: Our purchase of Palm doesn’t mean what you think it means.

We didn’t buy Palm to be in the smartphone business. And I tell people that, but it doesn’t seem to resonate well.

It’s like that old retort after someone states an obvious move: “No… that’s just what they’d be expecting us to do.”

Ha ha! HP just fooled us all.

I’ve said that I believe HP wanted an OS of their own for their mobile strategy. They saw the coming rise of mobiles, knew Microsoft couldn’t help them there, and wanted something to fuel their new devices. To me it was obvious this meant more than smartphones, but it was equally obvious it included smartphones.

This does not bode well for HP’s strategic thinking, so I’ll close by simply reminding you again…

What Sales of Two Million iPads Can Tell Us

May 31, 2010—Apple® today announced that iPad™ sales have topped two million in less than 60 days since its launch on April 3.

There’s the inevitable comparison to the corresponding iPod and iPhone sales marks, but I don’t think it can reveal the iPad’s overall popularity compared to those devices. After all, iPods now routinely sell over 10M a quarter, and iPhone sales are always encumbered with carrier contracts.

What I do think we can see is that, increasingly, the iPhone OS is becoming “mainstream”. By this, I mean there’s less concern in the mind of the average consumer that a purely touch interface can work. No more garbage about how the screen will get too oily, you can’t use a software keyboard, etc. Put simply, the paradigm shift from keyboard/mouse to touch screen—at least for tasks most consumers do—is less of a question. As more and more consumers understand this, iPad sales will continue to roll.

The latest iPad ad contains the line “You already know how to use it.” Though a simple statement, I believe it’s at the very core of the iPad’s rapid rise in sales.

The fragmentation of Android continues

  • [The Dell Streak features] A customized multi-touch version of the Google Android operating system that features Dell user interface enhancements
  • The device is not yet available, but when it arrives it’ll be running the older Android 2.1. An OTA upgrade to 2.2 is said to be in the works for “later this year”.

    This is what Android has wrought. To differentiate their devices from others running the same OS, manufacturers must implement custom interface tweaks. It becomes an issue with Android upgrades because the manufacturer must ensure their custom tweaks, as well as the hardware, work properly.