Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tablet Tidal Wave -- Winners & Losers -- Hmm, Let Me Take a Guess

Yesterday, of course, Steve Jobs took the stage and introduced the new iPad 2. And, since the dawning of the tablet -- which essentially took place last year with the original iPad itself -- the hoped-for contenders have peppered the marketplace with tablets of different shapes and sizes. In fact, today's Wall Street Journal reports that 102 -- yes, 102! -- tablets already have been introduced or announced. And, the Journal cites sources that forecast 43.6 million unit tablet sales this year.

But, which ones will survive? Certainly Apple will continue to lead the way -- the Journal's data forecasts Apple to retain 78% tablet market share this year. That means that all but a handful of the remaining 101 tablets will be roadkill.

This whole cycle smells a lot like what happened with respect to the personal digital music player market nearly 10 years ago when Apple introduced the iPod and revolutionized the marketplace. Apple immediately created a mass market -- and scores of copycats flooded that marketplace. Yet, only a small handful survived. And, to this day, Apple's overall market share in that digital music eco-system (together with iTunes) remains about 70-80%.

Does this past foreshadow the future tablet marketplace? Well, certainly some significant things have changed. Apple's iOS is a closed system, of course, whereas most of the contenders have gone the open Android route. But, let's face it -- Apple is Apple. In the immortal words of Pink's current hit song, "they are too school for cool." Consumers simply want to be part of that Apple world -- and it takes an awful lot to pull them in a different direction. That means that Apple's market share likely won't change that much anytime soon ...