I have said for some time the primary and secondary price points for the glut of tablets that will become available this fall will be $149 and $249 with a distant tertiary point at $400. Here is another manufacturer who is adjusting their SRP to become salable. There is nothing wrong with the Nook Color: it is a fine tablet with snappy performance, can easily and intuitively store and use files (such as Microsoft Office files) from your PC, and has a pleasant form factor and passable battery life. The only thing the Nook is really missing is a good way to take notes on it, as there is no real app for that. You can also boot the Nook from a version of Android if you wish to load any of a number of boot images from CyanogenMod, using the Micro SD slot.
The only thing really wrong is that you cannot go to the most common market places unless you boot to Android and add Goggle Apps: the Amazon and Google Markets. This was a stupid blunder on the part of B&N, even through they told me it was Amazon who forbade them to allow their customers to shop also on Amazon. Seriously, guys, is Amazon.com so stupid that they don’t want people to buy from them just because they own a B&N Nook?
Not stunning, but functional. This is just an indicator of what is coming in the tablet market this fall. The price on this seven inch tablet is advertised at $89.99, including shipping. ASUS and Google just teamed up to release their Nexus 7 too, for $199, and the reviews are good: http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/28/nexus-7-review/. I feel that there will be a BUNCH of these kind of tablets 3Q2012 to 4Q2012 with the price eventually bouncing down around $30 — like cell phones. The more expensive tablets will have price points at $149 and $249, with maybe a poor performing price point at $399 ($349 would sell more). There may still be one or two expensive tablets at $600, but those will be a special niche market where people have a lot of money and want the status of possessing that brand. Here is another one from Archos — $250 — to compete head to head with the Kindle fire.
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Last fall Hewlett Packard decided to end its consumer computer line and focus on commercial computers. At that time they also decided to liquidate their inventory of HP TouchPad tablets at $99 each which detonated a market response loud enough to awaken every potential tablet maker on the planet. The philosophy before that time had been that “People just don’t want tablets”: at that moment they all simultaneously realized “People do want tablets, they just refuse to pay $600 to get one.” It is pretty much as Henry Ford observed: “If you build a product that people know they want, and sell it for a price they can afford to pay, they will buy it.”
At that time I began telling people that by 3rd-4th quarter 2012 — after manufacturers had time to get a design and start production — there would be a large increase in availability of tablets at much more competitive prices. Netbooks would also decrease in visibility — we’ll see tablets and notebooks with desktop PCs for syncing and “real” work — mobile devices are OK in the field but inadequate for standard office work such as typing and web page development.
My take on this is that we are beginning to see the snow wrinkle up in the mountains but the landslide has not reached us yet — prices will be lower and selection will be more like the selection for mobile phones is now — many possibilities in several price brackets. I think some of these tablets may even include telephony with a small BlueTooth remote with the requisite SIM card and 1-2 year contract. I am thinking the price will be around $150 or less in most cases with high end tablets being closer to $250. I see Apple has a niche market who will pay for art, so I am not thinking they will discount whatever version of the iPad is current much lower than today’s $499, however they may very well add a killer feature or two — HUP in eye glasses with a BlueTooth connection for example.
Where I think the technology is going:
Docking / sync stations will be an add-on at first as was the number keypad for the IBM PC keyboard, but eventually they will be expected as a part of the tablet. BlueTooth could be used to allow use with an external BlueTooth keyboard and mouse instead.
Telephoney will be included. My HP 6910p already has it with a SIM card slot under the battery, and that is an old notebook. More popular however will be tablets which are “unlocked” — those which will allow the owner to control who s/he chooses for his or her business partner (wireless vendor).
Handwriting mode will be added with some kind of office apps built in — not via “the cloud”. It will become possible to take notes in meetings without a big effort.
There will be a decent real leather case that can be carried elegantly on your person — not like the awkward bump that gets stuck on things as you walk past. There will be more accessorization and as the price drops at the low end people will be thinking more in terms of the color or art on the plastic, assuming all the electronics works about the same with about the same capabilities.
Competition will heat up pretty good 3Q2012 with explosive deals on Black Friday to hit the Christmas season. Unemployment dropped to about 7% in Indiana last month so more people will have money to spend. Hopefully.
The itty-bitty-breakable tiny USB micro jack for power charging and linking will go away. It will be replaced by magnetic charging and wireless link for both customer satisfaction and hardware cost reasons.
Barns and Nobles, Amazon, Apple, and others will quit bickering over “stores” and trying to prevent their customers from benefiting from media sold by other stores, and tablets will all run all the major store apps so customers can buy where they see fit. I say “all the major store apps” because the market is always right and those who won’t play nice eventually won’t play much. The Customer May Not Always Be Right, BUT THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS THE CUSTOMER!
Multi-core processors will be included with decent RAM and other resource allocations in the design. While you are out you will use the tablet as a mobile device but when you get home you will slide it into a slot/dock and it will become your PC. Ubuntu has already announced they *have* done this for multi-core phones running Android — a version of Ubuntu installs on the phone alongside the Android: docking the phone turns it into a satisfactory PC. Bill Gates foresaw this two decades ago and wrote about it in his book. Microsoft has redesigned the Windows 8 “Metro” to look and work like a mobile device instead of the desktop — I wonder if someone is awake there too.
Pricing: single-cores that can’t turn into a PC by docking: commodity $20-$89, mid: $149, high: $249 and up. Pricing multi-cores that can actually do a passable job as a generic office PC: commodity $250-$350, mid: $450-$689, high: $700 and up.
That is the thought for the day — hold your plastic a couple more months unless you are dying to own a Nook or Kindle, and have plenty of cash ready to go for Black Friday sales right after Thanksgiving Thursday. Also when you buy watch for features and hardware composition: especially at first things will not all be compatible or equal.