It’s been quite a year for tablets. Quite a few have been introduced, but few have found a footing.
Dell killed off their Streak 5 tablet/smartphone back in August, and today they did the same to their Streak 7. Both of these devices ran on Android, and like most other tablets over the last year or two, they were at least loosely positioned to compete with Apple’s iPad.
But iPad has dominated all its competitors. This will change when year end numbers come in, but the next best selling tablet after the iPad so far has been the HP TouchPad… and it certainly flamed-out in a big way. The only reason it made it to number 2 behind the iPad is because it was practically given away in a firesale. HP got so fed up with tablets that they said they would quit the PC business entirely. But instead, their CEO was booted and a new one brought in.
Dell won’t have the crash of self-confidence that HP had. They won’t threaten to quit the PC business. But it is interesting to see just how many tablets that had potential just didn’t make it this year.
While these failed tablets were trying to take on iPad, it looks like the only tablets that will have success in the near future are the ones that changed the paradigm. Rather than go head-to-head with the iPad, Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire. It’s weaker than the iPad, but also much cheaper. With the Fire, Amazon smashed the non-iPad tablet market using price as a battering ram. It took a completely different way of thinking to manage this. Where the other tablet makers were trying to make money on the sale of their tablets, Amazon is selling their tablet at close to break-even (maybe even a little less), and then plans on making money by selling content and products to the owner. Barnes & Noble is taking the same route with their Nook Tablet.
But not many other tablet manufacturers have the means to make tablets and sell them cheap while making money on content. We’ll have to watch to see if they can find a successful model for selling tablets without having the ability to supplement their profit by selling content.
About the only thing one can say about the future of the tablet market is that it’s not settled yet.