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Are iPad Rivals Really That Bad?

Gordon Kelly


Are iPad Rivals Really That Bad?

On Friday we heard The Future Is Bright The Future Is Android. This week we are told the iPad will be so dominant that rivals won't get a look in right through 2015! Just what is going on?

As usual the short answer is: much speculation. On Monday heavyweight analysts Gartner shocked the techsphere by claiming that Apple will still enjoy a near 50 per cent hold on the tablet sector as we approach 2016. By then we'd be onto the iPad 6! By contrast Android will apparently have mustered just a 39 per cent share despite being available on many more devices and at a greater variety of price points.

Contrast this with Friday's report. When it comes to smartphones Android will have a 48.8 per cent share in 2015, iOS just 17.2 per cent and even Microsoft will have surpassed Apple with 19.5 per cent. RIM is a long way back in forth with 11.1 per cent. The interesting bit: both sets of figures come from Gartner. Surely some mistake? Not necessarily.

All of which poses the question: are iPad rivals really that bad? After all if it is going to take in excess of five years to catch a single product (possibly two, if there is an additional iPad screen size) it would appear they are doing something fundamentally wrong. And, to an extent, they are…

Right now the iPad competition is in a mess. This largely comes down to one problem: fragmentation. Not fragmentation in the way you are thinking (the different OS versions and uneven firmware updates), it is something far more fundamental: a failure of migration. iOS is the only smartphone platform to successfully transition from phone to tablet. Android has fractured into Android 2.x and the radically different 3.x, RIM has essentially scrapped BlackBerry OS in favour of QNX and Microsoft (bafflingly) refuses to put Windows Phone on a tablet despite the fact its live tiles are actually more suited to a tablet than a phone. Perhaps this is because the OS is called 'Windows Phone'. Maybe 'Windows Mobile' would have been a better choice? Whoops.

Of course we do have HP and Web OS, but it is anticipated to go from a 1.1 per cent share in 2011 to a 3.0 share in 2015 – a technological tragedy akin to BetaMax – making it largely irrelevant.

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