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It’s iPad vs. Xoom… and Who Else?

The blurry lines of competition in the crowded tablet computing market are becoming a bit clearer. {complink 379|Apple Inc.} is still leading; that's incontestable. But {complink 12925|Motorola Mobility Inc.} has fired back strongly with the Xoom, which is wowing consumers and analysts alike and setting the stage for the kind of rivalry other OEMs need to ensure they can get a piece of the hot market.

It's not yet a two-horse race — and it's unlikely only two companies will dominate this market, since other OEMs, including {complink 38|Acer Inc.}, {complink 1544|Dell Inc.}, {complink 2376|Hewlett-Packard Co.}, HTC, {complink 4644|Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM)}, and {complink 4751|Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.} have introduced or indicated they will make tablet computers. To make a strong dent, however, rival manufacturers not only need to quickly enter the market but also field equally competitive or better products. The bar is getting raised higher each day as the market buzzed Wednesday with news that Apple might unveil an update to the iPad.

If Apple rolls out the iPad 2 as expected later today, the already huge gulf between the company and lagging rivals will only widen, making it more difficult for the latter to establish a viable presence in the sector. Samsung's Galaxy, for instance, won some rave reviews when it debuted, but analysts agree that the product does not match the iPad in performance, user interface, or aesthetics.

The conclusion is that it's no longer enough to just show up with a product in this market. Apple has set a standard by which all other manufacturers will be measured, and consumers will be unforgiving in rating products coming out later this year. Motorola's Xoom easily cleared that hurdle, and even left a few notches for Apple to scale. The Xoom featured a faster processor and two cameras, one front-facing and another on its back.

{complink 7427|iSuppli Corp.} estimates components for the Xoom probably cost $359.92, comparable to the value of materials on the iPad. “With its features and functionality, the Xoom is clearly designed to go head-to-head against the iPad 3G,” says Wayne Lam, senior analyst, competitive analysis, at IHS, iSuppli's parent company. “In pursuing that design philosophy, Motorola has closely lined up the Xoom’s component costs with that of the iPad's, especially where it counts: in the touch screen, the display and the cellular radio. Of all the 'iPad killers' analyzed by the IHS iSuppli teardown team, the XOOM best approximates the cost/performance standard set by Apple.”

That's where the similarities end, though. The Xoom added elements that were not available on the iPad, including a faster dual-core processor supported by double-data rate SDRAM; it also promises future support for flash, which Apple continues to disdain. “The XOOM earns its status as a true iPad competitor by virtue of the fact that it equals many of the iPad's best features — while also making up for some of the iPad's shortcomings,” Lam says.

A less positive or outright negative review would have killed the Xoom, and with it Motorola's dreams of reviving its fortunes in the smartphone and tablet computing market. Other vendors must be warily watching the news from Apple knowing they must match whatever the company introduces next. Even Motorola executives must be concerned that the Xoom could quite easily become dated if the iPad 2 offers even better hardware and software applications.

Executives at RIM must similarly be watching these developments with some trepidation. The company's BlackBerry Playbook is being eagerly awaited — I am personally eager to compare it with the Xoom before making a choice — but it must hit the ball straight out of the ballpark to be considered a contender for the industry crown. RIM needs the Playbook to do spectacularly well in the market because corporate users of the BlackBerry smartphone can then be more easily retained.

The entire smartphone/tablet computer controversy represents both an opportunity and a nightmare for component suppliers and contract manufacturers. On one hand, their markets have been re-energized by the increased demand for components, but simultaneously they must deal with rapid product obsolescence as manufacturers try to outperform each other. Consumers have come to expect new products every six months or so, and each player in the electronics supply chain must deliver on this promise — or get shoved out of the market.

19 comments on “It’s iPad vs. Xoom… and Who Else?

  1. Ms. Daisy
    March 2, 2011

    Bolaji:

    Great comparison of these tablet computers! it must be intimidating for any new vendor to enter the competition whichh is lead by Apple. The hardware metrics seems to be an area that Zoom has taken to another level. Each of these vendors is trying to outrun the other to gain strategic advantage or maintain the lead in the case of Apple.

    I see that Zoom tried to catch up on apple's dominance by adding 2 cameras, that is innovative. I have not had time to make this comparisons but I am curious about manipulations made to the software applications and/or the operating systems by each of these companies. 

  2. DataCrunch
    March 2, 2011

    I am curious to see how the RIM PlayBook compares to the iPad as well.  I am all for other players to jump into the tablet arena and take their best shot, but my gut feeling is that most will not even be on par with the first generation iPad device, let alone the iPad 2.

  3. Mydesign
    March 2, 2011

         Bolaji, major players are realized that apart from smart phone sector tablets are another sector where they can dominate. That’s why almost all the major Smartphone players are planning to either shift or focus their base to tablet computing sector too. It is expected to be more than a million dollar turn over market in coming few years from handheld computing devices.  So everybody wants to make use of this market.  Yesterday Apple released their IPad 2 and coming days more players declares their role of contribution to this sector (RIM Playbook, Motorola –Xoom etc).

         As a result of this tablet war, customers are going to be benefited in different ways. Some of the major customer benefits are advance hand held devices with better features and computing power, variety of customized applications etc. Moreover, we can expect all these feature with a competitive price too.

  4. Anand
    March 3, 2011

    Thanks for the article Bolaji. iPAD -2 is released. Some of the major changes are, iPad -2 is thinner and lighter than most its rivals. iPad -2 has largest available built-in storage (64GB), but the Xoom probably is providing 32GB of internal storage plus expandable storage via an SD Car. Some of the factors which could work in favour of iPad-2 are

    1) Its lighter

    2) Its cheaper (499$)

    3) 65000 Native apps.

    4) battery life of 10 hours,

     

    Lets see how the market reacts.

  5. Adeniji Kayode
    March 3, 2011

    I agree with you Bolaji, In addition,I like  to also add that Xoom came out with 1G RAM while Ipad 2 came out with 512MB.

    Apple gave customers the choice of prices that are determined by the internal storage capacity which ranges from 16G/32G/64G while xoom came out straight with 32G Internal memory capacity(Probably for now ). With this, customers can easily buy at their pocket level.

  6. Adeniji Kayode
    March 3, 2011

    I agree with you and for now the toughest competitor Apple ipad 2 has is xoom but then, considering the number of applications in android, i think Ipad 2  still has an edge over Motorola Xoom.

    Above all, response from the market will be the best Judge.

  7. elctrnx_lyf
    March 3, 2011

    I think tablet market is getting really interesting with XOOm and ipad2 but there is other potentail payers like HP, RIM ah their tablets and Notionink who are going to launch soon. But apple always has the advantage to actually bring a different product into the market before every one. Probably it will take only few months to actually decide the clear winner in the tablet segment.

  8. stochastic excursion
    March 4, 2011

    Apple as a first-mover has been moving forward with such momentum that other companies seem to be caught in its wake.  The iPad 2 is out, and so is the expected buzz from the entertainment industry: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118033179?refCatId=1009

  9. itguyphil
    March 4, 2011

    Apple's fanbase is one that is admired by A LOT of companies. They have the leg up on everyone else because they breed the perception that Apple products are the best. Whether that's the reality or not, it's hard to convince consumers otherwise.

  10. Wale Bakare
    March 5, 2011

     

    We leave in world of strong competitions now than before – technologies are posing great challenge and utter nightmare to manufacturers. Though, very good comparison anyway and as we all awaiting RIM to launch Blackberry Playbook soon, let us not forget Samsung too who happens to produce slicker and  more slimmer devices. Still have bigger say in market than Motorola.

    Nonetheless, I still believe some smart consumers will be anxiously waiting for Blackberry and perhaps Samsung to respond to the launching made by Apple & Motorola before they eventually dole out their cash to get the smartest tablet amongst all.

     

  11. Adeniji Kayode
    March 5, 2011

    wale, I share your opinion too. I see an opportunity for other manufacturers that are yet to reease their products to go back to the board and study the newly release Ipad and bring out something better.I feel this is an edge for them if they see it like that.

  12. Adeniji Kayode
    March 5, 2011

    well, Over time Apple has always produce stable products.Their products are some how expensive but i think they always give you value for your money. I feel “Quality” is part of their watch words

  13. Adeniji Kayode
    March 5, 2011

    Wale:

    On the other hand, Apple has a way of exploring human needs in the area of technology and they also have a way of thinking ahead.This alone is enough to put Apple in front and ahead.

  14. Wale Bakare
    March 5, 2011

    Yes Adeniji,  Apple has been in the forefront of smart devices, i presume Apple's secret – intellectual properties are well protected and get excellent rewards for the unique innovations.

    More importantly, i hope there will not be poaching of talents as it has happened in Software experts – Facebook and Google just recently.

     

  15. itguyphil
    March 5, 2011

    If you're talking price point, the iPad is significantly cheaper than the Xoom. My question is “What is Motorola's value proposition for charging us 5x the iPad's price?”.

  16. Wale Bakare
    March 5, 2011

    Pocharle

     

    Charging price depends on cost of direct materials supplied and manufacturing. If Motorola's xoom total cost of components and manufacturing outweighed ipad's, how do you want Motorola to put market price below cost of design. Afterall they are all profit oriented organisations, primary goal is to maximize profit. And besides,  Apple may have inhouse Embedded Design Engineers or System -On -Chip Designers within its R&D team, but this cannot be confirmed.

    This may be the major difference, while others may be contracting higher percentage of the task to suppliers & manufacturers Apple may not be doing this and tactics to stay ahead of arch-rivals in global market, therefore will enable Apple to charge consumers lesser price.

     

  17. itguyphil
    March 6, 2011

    And that in itself is a hindrance to Motorola's success. Apple's products are seen as the 'Standard' in the marketplace. If you are 1. a competitor and 2. Higher price (due to what you just mentioned), what will be the leg up on the iPad(2) to make me (the consumer, purchase it).

    I guess we will see…

  18. eemom
    March 9, 2011

    Sorry for posting late on this, I read this a while ago and meant to add my “opinion”.  I agree that the biggest hurdle Apple's competitor's have to clear is the consumer perception that Apple's products are better.  Apple has consistently proven to be a technological leader, their products are “sexier” not to mention more reliable.  In the past, Apple's products have also been more expensive, yet consumers paid the extra price for what they considered to be the best.

    Motorola's Xoom (as well as others that have yet to enter the market), may have faster processors and additional features that the iPads don't have.  However, is that enough to charge the consumers a higher price?  I understand that Motorola's costs may be higher but that is not what the consumers care about.  It's the cost/value proposition that drives consumers to make buying decisions.

     

  19. itguyphil
    March 10, 2011

    Thanks eemom,

    It's always good when someone else gets your point. Soo, Motorola is going to have to start the Xoom v. iPad commericals to make their point & get the word out.

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