The Tablet Wars (Part 3) - Barnes & Noble Nook HD

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Description: Barnes & Noble Nook HD

·         7” screen

·         1440x900 HD LCD

·         11 hour battery life

·         From $199

·         Wi-Fi

·         HD front facing camera

From this, it’s clear Apple knows what its major competitor is. It helps Apple that the quality of the apps on iPad are amazingly high. The vetting process by Apple ensures that they are free from viruses and spyware and there is none of the shovelware that is often seen on Android. The lower levels of piracy on the iPad also works in favour of the consumer. Developers are more likely to put money into iOS products than on other formats, because of the fear that piracy will eat away at their profits. It has been shown time and again that more money is made on iOS devices than on Android and this leads to better quality all round.

This is also true of games, with the iPad having more titles than the Nexus at the moment. However, the whole tablet market is buoyant. Jason Kingsley, chairman of videogame trade body TIGA and the boss of Rebellion, points to the 84% year-on-year rise in iPad sales in the third quarter ending 30th June and the fact Google has halted new orders for the 16GB Nexus 7 after major demand.

“The quality and proliferation of tablet devices provides exciting prospects for studios in the UK,” he says. “For years, we have seen the potential these devices offer for gaming. More crucially, we have seen the fresh markets they open up, taking games to people who may otherwise not consider playing. Tablets and smartphones have the potential to widen the gaming market and turn millions more to gaming.”

What this does is make it difficult to declare a winner. The iPad Mini could eat into sales of the iPad as much as it will inevitably provide direct competition for the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. Of all of the devices, the iPad Mini is the one that is most likely to succeed because the price of $430 and the familiarity of the brand, tied in with the build quality and number of apps will turn heads among those who are only buying other brands because they’re more affordable.

Apple CEO Tim Cook summed it up nicely when he said, “It seems like every day there’s another tablet shipping, but when you look at the ones being used it tells a different story. iPad accounts for 91% of web traffic .... Why is iPad so phenomenally successful? People love their iPads – the big display, the fast fluid responsiveness, the front camera for FaceTime and the rear iSight camera, which takes photos and video, they love that they can connect anywhere they can go, they love iPad’s all-day battery life, and all of the amazing apps that have been optimized for iPad.”

However, the price of the iPad Mini means there’s still room for others. In the midst of all of this market shifting is Microsoft with its half-way house, but it’s important in this market to come up with something that is different. That is indeed what we have. The Kindle Fire is, as we’ve said, a device that is more about consuming and taking content from Amazon. The Google Nexus is a brilliant, adaptable and feature-packed Android tablet that is a snip at the price. The iPad Mini taps into the high-quality environment of iOS in the same manner as the iPad and the Surface is the true bridge between laptop and tablet, attempting to fudge and offer the best of both worlds. But is Microsoft being too traditional and missing the point?

Indeed, as with all speculation, some are right, some are wrong. Where Apple was scorned for producing a tablet in the first place by those who felt that a phone sorted out those who wanted pocked-sized computing on the go and a laptop was good for heavy duty work (just where would a tablet fit among all of this, they asked), it has now confused things even further with a Russian doll approach. Will Apple fans buy the lot and decide on which size they feel happiest with at that moment in time or will the iPad Mini come to be seen as the poor man’s iPad?

“Personally, I’m all for iOS and Android,” says Christopher Kassulke, CEO of HandyGames, “and I love both the iPad and the Nexus. I’m happy with both of these. For some it’s a ‘religion’ but for me both are tools that make my life easier. The quality of the iPad and the Nexus are great, but I think that the competition for the iPad Mini will actually be the iPad or the iPhone rather than the Kindle Fire or Nexus. In my opinion, I am sure the biggest ‘loser’ of that discussion is the third platform...”

Which again brings us back to the Surface. Is it going to be like Windows Phone and take a third place spot while the attention continues to be on Android and iOS? Or will Microsoft surprise us all with a marketing drive that is perfect enough for it to make a major in-road. It’s not beyond Microsoft to pull off some more of the magic that saw the Xbox 360 pulling the cooler end of the gaming market aboard the evil ship Microsoft, is it? Only time will tell.

And so we leave things wide open. A tablet war that has many sides, lots of supporters and a major winner in the consumer who chooses the right one. It’s akin to the Commodore 64-Spectrum-Amstrad CPC wars all over again and we will invite a storm of protest by arguing that the iPad is the C64, the Nexus and Kindle are the disk and cassette versions of the Spectrum, with the Surface similar to the CPC: a great machine but sitting on the outside trying to prove it’s worth a look.

It leaves a final question of which side of the playground you’re arguing from. One thing’s for sure, Steve Jobs was right when he launched the iPad. We didn’t know we needed tablets at the time, but now they’re here, they’re here to stay

Why Apps Matter

The Apple iPad Mini and the iPad itself have one major advantage over rivals: the fact they have more than 300,000 apps available for them. While it could be said that the different size screens of the iPhone and two iPads could cause cold sweats among developers producing apps that make the most of each format, at the heart of the tablet wars is what is available for them.

So while there are many apps for Android, there are nowhere near as many Nexus 7 specific apps around that take advantage of that particular tablet. And the Amazon and B&N tablets do not offer the same number either.

This is where Apple will continue to shine, helped along by the fact that iOS development continues to be more lucrative for developers. Microsoft will have to do all it can to ensure that more and more developers produce apps that have the Surface in mind, otherwise the lack of support - something that has killed off many a tech before now -could have serious repercussions.


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