In a New York Times article entitled Rivals to the iPad Say This Is the Year, makers of would-be iPad competitors reveal their strategy. Tablet manufacturers “who have discussed their plans say they will both offer specific features that the iPad is lacking, and undercut their competitors on price.” (Emphasis mine.)
Reading this gave me a flashback to almost five years ago, when Samsung released an mp3 player that they hoped would compete with the iPod. It was a good product, and it was doomed to fail. David Pogue nailed it:
The iPod’s competitors have wasted years of opportunity by assuming that they can beat the iPod on features and price alone. They’re wrong.
In fact, at least six factors make the iPod such a hit: cool-looking hardware; a fun-to-use, variable-speed scroll wheel; an ultrasimple software menu; effortless song synchronization with Mac or Windows; seamless, rock-solid integration with an online music store (iTunes); and a universe of accessories. Mess up any aspect of the formula, and your iPod killer is doomed to market-share crumbs.
I predict that history will largely repeat itself. Apple doesn’t win because they provide more features, they win because they provide a more intentional design that results in a better experience. Many other tablets will be sold and loved (my friends love their Samsung Galaxy Tabs), but no device will present a credible threat to the iPad’s market dominance until it offers a similarly intentional, compelling, and coherent experience.