The announcement of Apple’s “new iPad” is sure to ruffle a few feathers over in the Android tablet camp, most notably because now manufacturers have no excuse over price drops.
Ever since the first few iPad competitors broke ground in 2010, reviewers have been especially critical of the price the tablets fetched.
While Apple’s first-generation iPad amazed and delighted with its design, technology, and operating system, competitors were trying to come up with something else, initially trying the 7 inch tablet market with prices that damn near matched what Apple was trying to do.
Since then, more tablet manufacturers have shifted their game and created some truly excellent devices, but one thing remained: prices close to – if not evenly matched or higher – that of Apple’s, without offering the same application ecosystem.
Much of this was due to the fact that manufacturers would argue that the same sort of technology thrown into Apple’s products was used here, thus driving the cost to be roughly the same.
Those not taking that line of defense would say that if they lowered the price on their tablets, consumers would view that their product is inferior and the damage to both reputation and product line-ups would be disasterous.
There was, however, always a catch here: these companies weren’t Apple.
The reason Apple got to ask for these prices was that you were paying for Apple design, an Apple operating system, an Apple application ecosystem, and this connection to one of the world’s biggest content delivery systems: iTunes.
Now “the new iPad” has been announced with the best screen ever produced in a mobile device, and while the naming convention will probably confuse everyone for a while to come, the pricing won’t:
Apple’s “new iPad” will fetch a starting price of $539 in Australia, while keeping the iPad 2 – for all intents and purposes, still an excellent tablet – in the market for $429.
Now makers of Android tablets don’t really have a choice: the prices will have to drop.
What will drop
It goes without saying that all new technology is old technology, once something even more new comes out, and so regardless of Samsung announcing a tablet last week or Asus showcasing the latest and greatest at Mobile World Congress in Spain, these new devices are now old.
But they’re not nearly as old as what is currently out, the technology that is already in the marketplace being sold to customers like yourself.
A quick glance to The Good Guys shows that the minimum price you can grab a 10 inch Android tablet for is $444, affording you Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1. While it might seem like only a short time since Samsung released this tablet – after being held up in legal hell between Apple and Samsung locally – this tablet is now old technology, and while yesterday this was cheaper than the iPad 2, now it’s more expensive than the very tablet it competes with.
In fact, all tablets compete with the iPad: it’s the one that started this big tablet onslaught that we’re now seeing. So with that, companies have to actually compete and not just try to price match. The only time prices can change is when the product truly offers a different point of view, like in the case of the 4G LTE equipped tablets we’re now beginning to see (Apple’s “new iPad” features LTE, but not in the type Telstra’s 4G can use, rendering it a moot addition locally).
So what should drop in price? Practically every currently available Android tablet released from last year’s mold will have to see a price shift, otherwise customers will just end up going for either the new iPad or the less expensive iPad 2.
We’re already seeing a refresh of Android tablets, and that was always going to push the prices of older stock down, but now this will need to be done once again.
Expect these price shifts in the next week or so, as manufacturers struggle with how best to combat the two-pronged iPad attack that will arrive when the new iPad surfaces on March 16.
There are some exceptions to this rule, and some tablets won’t shift in price.
For instance, it’s unlikely that the Windows tablets will move much, if any at all, sticking with the idea that these machines – currently produced by Samsung and Asus – are more than just a slate with a simple operating system, but rather a fully-fledged computer running Windows 7 and featuring a touchscreen.
As such, you’re not likely to see an Intel Core i5 equipped computer at bargain basement prices where a touchscreen is involved. Not yet, anyway; maybe next year.
You also probably won’t see the latest bunch of Android tablets equipped released only recently move much from their current values.
These are the “new tablets” as far as Android developers are concerned, most arriving with the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, a very capable graphics processor, and Google’s latest version of Android – number 4.0, also called “Ice Cream Sandwich”.
As such, these technically compete with the new iPad, the one announced on March 8, rather than the one announced last year and designated the iPad 2.