Apple Talk: iPad competitors are ghosts of machines

Most of the iPad's so-called rivals aren't here yet - let alone competing…

Apple iPad: Gartner says the iPad will still dominate in five years

Gartner says the iPad will still dominate in five yearsPhoto: Apple

Apple's iPad is into its second iteration while most of its supposed rivals have yet to appear. So can they really take market share from Apple? Seb Janacek doubts it.

Never has an industry been so obsessed with market share than technology. Perhaps it's something in the geek psyche that it needs to dominate to be named victor.

Nothing is so concerned with quantity than the mindset that market share is the be-all and end-all of everything. We had the browser wars, the OS wars, the smartphone wars and now we have the tablet wars. In this industry, it's as if everything is a game of Command and Conquer or Risk.

Perhaps it's the obsession with chip clock speeds and Moore's Law, tonnes of RAM and storage, data transfer speeds and the 'size is everything' principle. Bigger, faster, better?

The industry, its products and marketing live largely in a quantitative world. Apple has greater focus on the qualitative one. Earlier this month, Android's smartphone share of the market swept past the iPhone, leaving one tech website to claim breathlessly that Apple's device was "dead in the water".

Earlier this week, Gartner analysts predicted that while the iPad will still be dominant in five years' time, competitors will gradually erode its share.

Gartner said iOS accounted for 83.9 per cent of the media tablet market last year and forecast Apple's OS will take two-thirds, 68.7 per cent, of the market this year, dropping slightly to 63.2 per cent in 2012 and then just under half, 47.1 per cent, in 2015.

This prediction ignores two things. First, whether this scenario will come to pass and, secondly, whether this matters much to Apple.

Pretenders to the iPad's crown

Looking at the gallery of pretenders to the iPad's crown, most are not even on the market, yet Apple's device has already moved on to its second iteration. It is assumed that the competitors will arrive and cut into the iPad's share. I'm not so sure.

The iPhone is in a highly competitive market, with Google and RIM both forces to be reckoned with. Yet take a look at the iPod. It completely dominated its market for 10 years, and still does. Is it right to assume that the iPad's competitors will waltz?

In the last week we've seen a slew of terrible reviews for the RIM Playbook, already late to market. Then we had news that the Motorola Xoom, the showcase Android tablet, had not sold as many units as expected. The enemy is setting up camp outside the gates, still reading assembly instructions for siege engines.

What of the challengers? Google will undoubtedly emerge as a serious challenger to the iPad and become one of the dominant platforms. Yet Honeycomb, the first tablet-specific OS, has been...