One Year After iPad's Debut, Apple Remains King of Tablets

      April 05, 2011 10:29

      Apple kick-started the global tablet PC market with the launch of its iPad on April 3, 2010. A year later the market is booming and the iPad continues to be the undisputed leader. Apple left its rivals scrambling once again with the release of iPad 2 last month and is likely to cement its dominance further. Will any other manufacturer be able to dethrone it?

      ◆ Matchless Dominance

      The iPad opened a new chapter in mobile electronics, with some 15 million sold as of March 2 when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad 2. According to market researcher IDC, the tablet PC market will grow to 50 million units in sales this year with Apple expected to account for 70 to 80 percent.

      The primary reason for the iPad's dominance is the overwhelming number of applications for it, compared to the number available for its rivals. Apple's App Store contains some 350,000 applications with more than 65,000 exclusively for the iPad, Jobs said. Another reason is the Apple hallmark of simple and refined design, which enables customers to quickly and easily learn how to use the device.

      ◆ Affordable Price

      Another competitive edge was made clear with the launch of iPad 2, which is priced within the same range as the first version despite the upgraded performance. The cheapest among the six models costs US$499. Apple is able to keep its costs down to levels that few other manufacturers can match by buying components in bulk. Beating Apple in price is a major source of trouble for competitors that can hardly outpace the company in performance or application numbers.   

      ◆ Potential Challengers?

      A strong candidate to potentially keep Apple in check is Samsung Electronics. With the release of the Galaxy Tab last October, the Korean manufacturer reduced Apple's share of the market from over 90 percent to around 75 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. Samsung is preparing successors with 8.9-inch and 10.1-inch displays and upgraded performance in a bid to lead the market for tablets running Google's Android OS, following its ascendance in the Android smartphone arena.

      Other firms are rolling out tablets of their own. The world's No. 1 PC manufacturer, Hewlett Packard, is preparing to unveil its TouchPad based on its own webOS. Last month LG Electronics debuted its first tablet PC, the Optimus Pad, which features an 8.9-inch screen and runs on the Honeycomb version of Android, in North America and Japan. Research In Motion is also gearing up for the release of its BlackBerry PlayBook through 20,000 retailers in North America later this month. Whether any of these devices, or perhaps a combination of some of them, can stop the iPad juggernaut remains to be seen.

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