In the beginning God (aka Steve Jobs) resurrected Apple. And then he said, “Let there be light” and there was the iPad. Two years later, The Tablet War is heating up. In the same month that Microsoft released its own ware, Google has also entered the fray.
Obviously the tablet game is far from simple; if you need evidence, just witness Leo Apotheker’s disastrous tenure at Hewlett-Packard. But everyone is still willing to jump into the game, for the payoff is almost as great as the risk. In a post PC world, he who does not adapt dies, he who adapts gets to eat all the pies.
In this game of thrones, it is hard not to choose Apple, the company with the greatest market value (by far) . In addition, by integrating its offerings ever since the Messiah returned, Apple already has all the chess pieces in place. With the iPad already well in place, it is hard to fathom any product short of perfection could dethrone it, as least for the short term.
Other companies have openings, of course, but as Omar Little famously put it: come at the king, you best not miss. That’s why after the HP debacle, most companies take a different route to avoid competing with the iPad directly. Microsoft is banking on its pedigree as the best friend for “bizumers”, while Amazon and Google are both focusing on offering low end product that makes money by offering contents. The competition is so relentless that Amazon is already coming up with a follow up to its hugely successful Kindle Fire tablet,
While most concede that Google cannot yet challenge the hegemony of Apple, many also anticipate that the Nexus 7 will have no problem brush off the also-runs. Here is a direct quote: “How can Toshiba’s Excite 7.7 tablet, priced at $550 and carrying a 1280-by-800-pixel display, compete with Google’s Nexus 7 when the latter offers the same screen resolution and costs $300 less? The Toshiba does have a 0.7-inch larger screen, but both have 16GB of memory and both run on an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor”.
Hence lay the challenge for other contenders and pretenders. You could say that the game is the same, it just got more fierce, but that would be a misinterpretation. The Tablet War is an unprecedented battle of ecosystems, and only the giants survive. Samsung, Sony, Toshiba can built beautiful devices, but so can Apple and Google and their partners, and they offer a lot more bang for the buck.
Left alone, the pretenders have no way to compete with the big boys. ASUS may be an equal share partner in the birth of Nexus 7, but without the patents, the infrastructure, the operating system, and contents, by itself it can be nothing more than a bit player.
This is a quandary that the Chinese companies also face. Let’s say Chinese companies catch up to its Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese predecessors. Then what? I guess we won’t find out until they step up to the plate, but right now, things are not looking good.