Monday, August 15, 2011

Glut of Tablet Inventory Suggests Hardware Makers Are Clueless About What Tablets Are For

What is causing the glut of tablet inventories as Channel Register reported.  And these are not iPads sitting on the shelves but Android tablets and the recently lower-priced Touchpad?

And it’s hard to discuss this issue without bring up the iPad but let’s try.

Transplantation.  It doesn’t work.  You cannot simply try to take what you have working in one form and try to make it work on another.  I’m talking about the OS.  Tablets with Windows did not work well because it was designed for a desktop setting rather than a tablet form-factor.

Microsoft has done a great job with digital input with the pen but that was in convenient.  It just wasn’t advanced enough.

The same thing goes for Android.  Before Honeycomb, tablet makers were using the handset version of the OS, ranging from version 1.6 all the way to 2.1.  Google did not endorse this because they knew it just was not a feasible thing to do.

Trying To Be Something It Is Not.  Tablets are not laptop replacements but the way some mobile OS look and function, they are mistakenly portrayed that way.  The biggest reason for tablets being returned is that they cannot do everything you can on a laptop.  Not yet.  And that could be the problem.

Marketing. Who are these tablets being marketed to?  And what compelling reasons have companies like Motorola and HP given people to buy their tablets?  As elegant as the Touchpad UI is, there are serious limitations that prevent HP from what it can say about the device.  You simply cannot sell something based on its potentials.

This is what RIM did with Playbook.  And HP with Touchpad as well.  Honeycomb was a bit more polished as far as features go but it was still hampered by an incomplete OS.

Furthermore, these first generation tablets are flooding the market at the same time without knowing what they are being used for except that their competitors are offering them.

Completed Products.  After years of serving as beta users, consumers are now smarter.  We want a finished product the moment it shipped.  Not a promise that a few months down the road, we’ll get the features that should have been there to begin with.  It’s like buying a car without a gas tank now but the dealer promises that three months later, you’ll have to bring it in so they can install it for you.

That’s exactly what happened with the Xoom.  Forget that the OS was incomplete and buggy, but Motorola promised LTE support.  It’s not mid-August.  No LTE yet.

Those are just a few of the top of my head.  Confusion in the market place is how I would sum it up.  The tablet market isn't like the PC, smartphone, or MP3 player markets.  It's evolving quickly - companies don't have a firm grip what tablets are being used for and we consumers are the ones pushing the boundaries.  

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