iPad still kicking Android Butt, No End in Sight

I made the prediction this year that iPads would dominate over all Android tablets, mainly because of the poor showing early on in the year and the over-hyped releases to come.  Most of that came to pass.  Some things I left out were bigger than I thought (hello Samsung Galaxy and Motorola Xoom), and others everyone missed completely (Kindle Fire).

But even with all that guessing and misstepping, the iPad still kicked butt.  All.  Year.  Long.

From comScore’s report on Digital Omnivores:  How Tablets, Smartphones and Devices are Changing Media Consumption Habits:

OS Market Share by Digital Traffic
Another way of defining platform market share is through the share of Internet traffic measured through browser-based page views. By this definition, iOS held an even stronger position in the market. In August 2011, the iOS platform accounted for more than half (58.5 percent) of the share of total non-computer traffic in the U.S, with the iPad’s dominance in the tablet market playing a key role in its position. In fact, iPads delivered 97.2 percent of all tablet traffic and even edged out iPhones in delivering the highest share of traffic for the iOS platform (46.8 percent vs. 42.6 percent of iOS traffic). Android OS once again ranked second, delivering 31.9 percent of overall non-computer traffic in August. RIM followed with a 5.0 percent market share. Other platforms, including Windows Mobile, combined to account for the remaining 4.6 percent of digital traffic.

And the graph from comScore, which is the clincher (click for full size):

iPad Crushes Android in Market Share

See the light blue section for Apple?  Now compare that with Android.  One word:  ouch.

iPad represents pretty much ALL of the tablet traffic as of August, 2011.  Android isn’t even a dent in the pie.  After dozens of tablet releases.  Android is winning hearts and minds with the mobile game, but they’re being ignored by the tablet crowd.  Maybe the stats will be different by years end, but Android has a lot of catching up to do.

Good luck with that, guys.

2011: Year of the iPad

Happy New Year to everyone, first of all.  And second, I hope you managed to get your hands on an iPad in the past 6 months because if you haven’t, you’re going to want one.

Why?  Because 2011 is definitely going to be the Year of the iPad.  Not by an inch, more like a mile.  Let me explain why…

Now that I own an iPad, I finally get the hoopla over these devices.  I wasn’t impressed when they came out and wasn’t really planning on getting one for the holidays.  Thanks to a generous visit from Santa, who despite my best efforts to the contrary with acerbic blog posts considered me worthy of one under the tree, I now own one along with my wife.  And I’m impressed.  Very impressed.

iPad:  The Must-Have Intermediate Computing Device

iPad is King, at least in 2011I’ll coin a new term for tablets: intermediate computing devices, although I’m hoping someone comes up with a better one in the future.  To me, the tablet represents a new class of device that isn’t quite in the same class as netbooks and mobile PCs, although categorically they tend to be lumped together.  These devices fill a gap where a PC is too cumbersome, but a smartphone isn’t powerful enough, or even large enough.  The iPad is clearly king of the tablets right now. I say that, not as an Apple Fanboi, but as a solid convert to the notion this device does actually have a place in your house when you already own a desktop, laptop, media computer (e.g. AppleTV), and smartphone.

Each platform has tremendous utility within its own domain (smartphones are great for keeping in touch on the go, but lousy for typing blog posts, and the laptop is strong where the smartphone is weak, etc).  It wasn’t until I actually owned the iPad that I suddenly found places where I really wanted more than my smartphone but much less than my laptop.

Let’s look at a specific example: my wife and I both love Rummy Tile.  Getting the boxed game out after the kids are in bed is a bit of a hassle, and we can’t play on anything except a very flat and hard surface.  Enter the iPad:  each of us downloaded an iPad version and can play against each other sitting in bed via Bluetooth.  Comfort and convenience, meet marital competition (For the record, my wife continues to beat me overall, even at the electronic version).

Not satisfied with that?  How about this:  I leave my email open on my laptop downstairs all the time.  Doing so prevents my iPhone from getting email, so I find myself having to run down 2 levels at night to shut down Outlook so I can see email in the morning when I get up.  Not with my iPad!  I installed Team Viewer and can now remotely login to my laptop, shut it down, or do anything I need on the computer (like grab an attachment from an old email, which I frequently need as well).

Of course, don’t forget the real estate improvement over the smartphone genre:  web browsing is a treat by comparison.  My wife and I need to lookup things all the time, and the iPad is the perfect device for on-demand, quick-and-easy web surfing.  No waiting for boot time of the laptop, no struggle to read the data displayed on the smartphone.

And…The Competition Sucks

After I got the iPad, I thought I’d check out the competition and see how the lay of the land was looking by comparison.  It’s not good for the Android folks Android Tablets are lacking...right now:

  • The Dell Streak requires a data plan from, yep, you guessed it, AT&T.  It’s cheap if you get the two year data-only plan at $30/month, but as pricey as the iPad otherwise.
  • The Google Android tablet has very mediocre reviews to date on Amazon.  When the “best helpful review” for it says, “For the price it’s not bad…”, you know you’re in trouble.
  • Two of the most promising contenders that generated huge buzz (Notion Ink and the Kno (aimed at college students)) just made the Wired Vaporware 2010 list.  Oops.
  • The Maylong $99 tablet sold at Walgreens got scathing reviews earlier this year, and continues to hold the distinction of “worst gadget ever“.
  • Viewsonic’s G-tablet isn’t exactly burning up sales with comments like “With some sweat equity, you can get it to work…”, and “Next gen hardware, but software needs improvement”.  At it’s current price, you can get a 3G iPad, and save on your Advil bills to offset the pain.
  • And other low-end competitors are getting smacked around too, like the Augen NBA7800ATP.
  • EDIT:  For those wondering why I omitted the Samsung Galaxy, see the comments.

Out of the box, the iPad just works, which isn’t something you can say of most tablets mentioned above.  At the current prices and capabilities, the Android tablets aren’t a clear win as a lower-end device.  The experience is often so poor as to be unusable, and the higher end models are not significantly better than the iPad for nearly the same cash outlay.  Never mind that engineers looking at the Android have discovered major issues with the compositing and view system which are primarily software-based, giving extremely poor responsiveness in the touch interface and the animation rates.  Android has a ways to go here–either due to hubris or lack of experience.

And while Windows 7 mobile at least got that part right, they are still lagging heavily in this market and will likely remain so for the balance of the year.  The market trends clearly favor Apple’s iPad as the hottest “mobile PC device” available, for 3 quarters running.

In short, no one else has a good handle on the market and user experience aside from Apple.

The Golden Last Frontier of Mobile App Development

Apple App Store, the Place We Love to HateLastly, what about the developer community?  Well, you can complain about the App Store all you want, but the Android Marketplace still isn’t a whole lot better than when I last wrote about it.  Furthermore, the app selection for Android is still considerably worse than than for iPad.

But the real reason you want to get in on the action is that iPad apps aren’t cheap, and therefore command higher revenues from the App Store.  The iPad versions of apps are often selling for several multiples (sometimes deserved, sometimes not) over their iPhone counterparts.  Even though the average across all apps is only $1 higher for iPad apps, my experience looking at the top-selling apps is somewhat different.  Here are a few examples that clearly show a difference if you get in the good graces of the world:

App Name
iPhone Price iPad Price
Angry Birds: $0.99 $4.99
Plants vs. Zombies $2.99 $9.99
Fruit Ninja $0.99 $2.99
Cut the Rope $0.99 $1.99
UNO $0.99 $4.99

Some are the same in both (SlingPlayer, LogMeIn) but clearly the experience is vastly different.

In addition to the gaming possibilities of the device, the iPad opens up a whole new world for application development where the increased screen real estate makes a big difference (Netflix avoided the iPhone app for a long time and rightly so until the iPad came along…now it’s one of the top rated iPad apps in the store, and for good reason).  And there are precious few decent iPad utility applications out there, making a rich market for those who have the know-how and willingness to surf the treacherous waters of Jobs & Co.

Unless a miracle happens, it looks like Apple has the tablet world by the tail for at least this year.  In 2012, assuming the Mayan gods don’t come to punish all of us for bad John Cusack movies, the landscape may change dramatically but for now it’s Steve’s world and we’re just computing in it.

Top Ten Reasons Babies are better than iPads

The ChallengerTop Ten Reasons Babies are better than the iPad

  1. Babies eventually grow up to be better than their fathers.
  2. Babies get cuter as they get older.  Think those fingerprints on your screen will get any cuter?
  3. Babies don’t have a daily purchase limit.
  4. After you get a baby, most people are satisfied for awhile and don’t want to upgrade for a long time.
  5. Babies make other people smile when they see them.  iPads just make people ask, “What’s that?”
  6. iPads look dorky in strollers.
  7. Putting an iPad on your back makes you look like a Borg.
  8. Babies don’t care if you use Flash, Objective-C, or Lua.  Babies just want you to talk to them in any language.
  9. Babies don’t require you to dress in black turtlenecks, khakis, or attend MacWorld for any reason.
  10. Babies are a LOT more fun to make than standing in line to buy an iPad


Top Ten Reasons iPads are better than BabiesThe Champion!

  1. iPads never require college educations.  The closest you get is $4.99 for the Encyclopedia app.
  2. You can shut the iPad off at 10pm and turn it back on at 7am every day, without social services knocking at your door.
  3. When the iPad is hungry, you can plug it in and leave it alone for two hours.
  4. One word:  Diapers.
  5. The iPad will never go on a first date or drive your car.  Ever.  Not even with iPhoneOS 4.0.
  6. You’ll never hear the iPad asking where it came from.
  7. The iPad will never walk in on you having sex.
  8. Trying to swipe a baby will land you in jail.
  9. Best game with a baby:  Peek-a-boo.  Which gets boring pretty fast.  Solitaire, on the other hand…
  10. You can’t make menstruation jokes about babies.