Apple is Too Good For Their Own Good

And That’s Why Android Tablets Will Succeed

Two years ago I boarded the Android train, saying

I simply believe that the Android platform has a verybright future ahead. That it is poised to be unstoppable. I am ofthe belief that gaining the developer knowledge and comfort withthe product now beats using the faster, slicker (and definitelycooler) iPhone 3GS. And I like having a real keyboard.

I am convinced that in the next two years we’ll see the release ofa variety of compelling and powerful products based on theplatform.

I was right. A lot of smartphone makers placed their bets onAndroid, and the rest is history. Millions of people bought theirdevices, making it the dominant mobile platform today.

They bought it when the UI was terribly unrefined. They boughtit when it had few apps, and those it did have were amateur hour.They bought it when it was glitchville.

On the sidelines during its growth, having zero impact instemming the tide, were a lot of pundits yelling out, desperatelytrying to understand why people weren’t purchasing the device theypreferred.

Today Android is refined: Gingerbread is smooth as silk, and hasfeatures that most competitors are just getting around to cloning.The hardware is unparalleled and shows no signs of slowing down.And while the platform is, by design, one where no single device ormanufacturer dominates, the Galaxy S II has astonishing levels ofpent up demand, and will be an enormous seller once itfinally hits these shores. Many are declaring it the best deviceavailable, all factors considered.

Look at where we were and where we are now. Today far moredevelopers are focused on Android than any competitor. Those whohung back, hoping that it would just disappear and theiruniplatform world would remain simple (not unlike manypro-Microsoft enthusiasts in the 90s), are finding themselves in asituation where their opportunity has disappeared.

I was completely right. A lot of people were wrong.

The Battlefield Moves to the Tablet World

Now, of course, it’s the tablet world that everyone is watching.It’s a world that the iPad dominates, having largely spearheadedthe industry. Sure, it existed before, but until the iPad camealong it wasn’t a mainstream category.

I saw atweet yesterday, in response to some revised Acer tablet numbers, saying-

Acer finds out what I’ve always said, there isn’t atablet market, there’s an iPad market

This in response to a company saying that they wereonly going to ship 3 million tablets in 2011. I wasshocked to learn the number was so high, and view Acer’s originalnumbers as nothing but fantasy. This puts Acer alone, with a seldommentioned set of tablets, taking 10% of Apple’s projected iPadsales.

Add Motorola’s disastrous Xoom sales (a horrendous release thatcouldn’t have been done worse), the millions of Asus Transformerdevices that disappear from supply chains as quickly as theyappear, and then the undoubted impact of the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Many consumers know and trust Samsung, most already havingseveral such devices throughout their home. The brand iscompelling.

Add to that the Toshiba Thrive, Olvietti, LG, and on and on.

That Android is already a significant competitor in the tabletspace is obvious, ridiculous statements otherwise only serving fora good laugh. Add in the coming release of the Tegra 3 and theaddition of the newest Snapdragon processors to the ecosystem, andit’s fairly obvious where things are going.

It’s the smartphone market all over again. There are of coursethose who deny it by continually lowering their expectations. I sawapost by Arment a couple of days back where he claimed that theGalaxy Tab 10.1 — a tablet in an even more magical form factor thanthe iPad 2 — got the “easy part” done, that being the hardware.That is an extraordinary claim given that virtually everyfawning-over-the-iPad2 article gushed about its unmatchablehardware construction, glowing about how the organization’s deepintegration yielded a product that no one could match. Similarlymost predicted a quick and ugly demise of Android tablets, but nowwe’re seeing the same people waving off single competitors eachstealing a tenth of Apple’s share. When they dominate, we’ll hearhow no single one of them beats the iPad sales figures, and soon.

For many consumers even the existing Honeycomb tablets are agreat choice. It has the best web browser — which is what mostpeople do with such devices past the novelty stage — and the bestemail client. Most of the devices feature incredible hardware withan amazing 720p+ screen. If you really want a tablet (even though acheap laptop is often a better choice), they are compellingoptions.

Apple Is Too Good For Their Own Good

When I wrote my original piece on Android, the theory was notthat Android was, in itself, a winner. The theory was that Applewas doing too well.

Apple threatened everyone. They threatened set top box makers.They threatened eBook makers. They threatened laptop makers. Theythreatened software makers. They threatened chipset makers. Theythreatened the huge gaming hardware market. They threatened thephotography and video capture markets.

Apple, through a broad reach and an excellence in delivery, madeevery other company their enemy. It threatened a centralization ofbroad-reaching platform control that has never been seen: It hadthe potential of making the 1990s Microsoft look impotent.

Android came at the right time, and with a backer like Google itoffered the “honest partner” those nervous hardware makers needed(filling in the role that Microsoft relinquished when it startedalienating its partners). It was the counterassault, and it hassucceeded brilliantly, despite a number of missteps along theway.

It would have remained a fringe toy if Apple weren’t sosuccessful at what they do. Apple made Android what it istoday.

The same thing is happening in tablets. The army lining up tomake Android on tablets succeed endlessly grows: There are a lot ofnervous companies desperate to ensure that the industry is notmonopolized. They will make it succeed.

The only real wildcard in all of this is whether Google remainsin the hearts of those organizations (there has been somealienation), and what the effect of legal efforts will be. MaybeOracle will win an injunction, Apple will take down Samsung inpatent court, etc. Those can’t be accounted for.

But outside of that, a single fringe entrant, over half a year,has captured 10% of the tablet market. That seems extraordinary. Isee that in very different terms than many others.

On Why I Write These Entries

I get quite a few emails related to this blog, many of whichoffer suggestions on the content. Some offer advice on keeping to acertain message (quite a few asking for more database relatedfocus, less on mobile), how to cater to social news better byadding infographics and graphics, etc.

I greatly appreciate these emails, and thank the writers fortaking the time to pen them, but I do think it’s worth spending amoment to describe my motivations.

This is not a professional blog and I am not a professionalblogger. I don’t make a penny from readers (it actually costs memoney, though I use these servers for other things). I don’t pushAmazon affliate links, and you won’t hear me talk about sponsors.There are no ads on these entries.

I have no motivation to target content for Hacker News orReddit. If anything I cringe when entries find their way on thosesites, bringing in the armies of pedants looking to discounteverything I’ve written on a technicality.

I don’t monitor analytics (although it’s on the main sitebecause one day I’ll get around to doing something with it). Idon’t know why people read any of these entries, or how many peopledo. If it wasn’t for the emails, I would assume I were talking tomyself.

Instead it’s a place for me to cathartically make comments,often to pen thoughts to what others have written.

Those response thoughts are often negative. Over the years I’vetaken on various imaginary foes, including Jeff Atwood, Joe Stump,John Gruber, Marcos Arment, among others.

The reason negative responses pervade is simply because “Iagree” isn’t really worthy of a post, is it Quoting someone elsewhose opinion mirrors your own is hardly worth the time. That’swhat “like” buttons are far.

Yet we live in amazing, amazing times. I marvel at howincredible the technology and products around us are. The fewgrievances about activities of some tech companies are, by andlarge, minor.

But when I read something I disagree with, especiallyif I see others running with that message, sometimes I’ll respondon here.