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Are The Tablet Wars Over?
 

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It's certainly looking that way—and Apple's iPad is the victor.  The latest casuality appears to be Research in Motion's Blackberry Playbook. It's still on the market, but sales have been lackluster to say the least. In an earnings call this week (another sad story in of itself), RIM had to acknowledge it only sold only 200,000 Playbooks over the previous quarter. That's less than than half of what it was expected to sell. During the same time period, Apple sold over nine million iPads, by comparison.

Also this week, Sharp scaled back its tablet offerings in Japan. It's only selling the 7-inch screen model, pulling its 10-inch and 5-inch screen options. Apple is beating the pants off all the other tablet options in Japan, as well, needless to say.

Just a few weeks ago, Hewlett Packard made the dramatic move pulling its WebOS Touchpad off the market after only six weeks in stores.

Reality sandwich: the iPad owns 66 percent of the tablet market. Android trails behind at 27 percent. The few other percentage points belong to the varioius distant runner-ups that just can't seem to get any traction.

The popular technology research think tank, International Data Corp, is projecting this gap between the iPad and Android tablets to at least begin to narrow next year driven primarily by price cuts.

I agree its possible the gap will tighten from competitive pricing. But, dare I say that it's "game over"? When so many consumers are in the position of buying their first ever tablet and they are being baraged with one headline after another of newly introduced tablets struggling, why would anyone take a chance on anything besides the established iPad?  Who wants to risk buying a tablet that could be an overpriced brick by the time you get it home?

More importantly, if Apple has won the tablet war then what will this mean for the smartphone war?

As more people move into the multi-device lifestyle of having both a smartphone and a tablet, it stands to reason they are going to want both to run on the same operating system. It's not practical to have an Android phone and an iPad tablet. Will Apple's critical mass in the tablet market drive more smartphone users to use iPhones instead of Android phones, especially with more carriers now offering iPhones? Google has given Apple a big run for its money over the past couple of years—even surpassing the iPhone in new smartphone sales. Given these two factors, iPad sales and more carriers offering the iPhone, I'm not sure Google can sustain this.

Last updated: Sep 18, 2011




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