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The Wall Street Journal's Digital Network offspring, All Things D, recently declared that "iPads are currently selling better than Android tablets to Android smartphone users." Well, call me pedantic but actually iPads are just currently selling better than Android tablets period. Whether they are selling to Android smartphone users is irrelevant. I must confess to be growing very weary over the constant Apple vs. Android debate, and turning it into Android vs. iPad debate doesn't help any -- the writer is comparing two completely different gadget types against each other.
I can see the angle John Paczkowski is taking, but when I read the same report on iPad sales in relation to Android smartphones, I saw it the other way around. Why are iPad owners not also iPhone owners then?
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Confession: I Love My iPad
I just happen to be one of the many people that chooses a gadget for its merits, regardless of the logo, make, or operating system. So, laying my cards on the table -- I own an iPad and I love it; I own an Android smartphone and I love that too.
Why didn't I choose an Android tablet? Because I believe iPads are the best tablets, at least for the moment; although the new Galaxy 10 inch tab is trying to close the gap, I don't want to wait for Android to catch up.
Why didn't I choose an iPhone? Because the Samsung Galaxy S2 tops it in almost all respects, and while that may change when the iPhone 5 comes along, it doesn't get me excited and I'm not inclined to wait for that either.
Maybe, it's just that Android smartphone users are less rigid, and will choose something based on many factors rather than just looking for a fruity logo, but now I'm sliding down the old A versus A road, and that's not my point. It actually goes much deeper than that...You see my Android-running Galaxy S2, and my Apple iPad have a bit of a relationship going on, that just couldn't happen between an iPhone and an iPad. Yep, my Android phone has a hotspot that the iPad is powerless to resist -- a Wi-Fi one. And try as it might, the mighty iPhone just can't break up this winning partnership.
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Why Have Two Data Plans?
At the time I got my iPad, it would have cost £100 more to purchase the 3G version, on top of which I would have to shell out for another data plan. If I already have a monthly plan for a phone, it seems ridiculous that I should then also pay out for a separate one for my iPad as well as a higher initial cost. One of the many reasons I chose my Android phone was because it had a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot facility -- problem solved, a mobile connection for my iPad when I'm out and about, but still only one data plan.
As the iPhone doesn't have this facility, maybe this is another reason that iPad owners choose Android smartphones.
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So What of Android Tablets?
There is no doubt that when Apple introduced the first iPad, they created the tablet market, and recent research shows that they still dominate this field in a massive way. Estimates for 2011, put iPads as enjoying a 56 percent share of the tablet market. The second spot goes to Samsung with a still pretty healthy 12 percent, but there's no doubt that the pioneers still tower over the competition. Although figures for 2012 suggest that Apple will lose a 5 percent share of the market, this still doesn't dent their market share to any great degree.
For a long time there was no competition to the iPad apart from the Galaxy Tab, which was a less than impressive piece of hardware and certainly nowhere near being an Android "iPad alike." Although the new version with the 10.1 inch screen is a step in the right direction, the fact that this is the closest rival is a huge clue as to why the iPad still dominates.
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The Apps Have It
Although the Android Market is full of apps for smartphones and is closing the gap on Apple in that arena, there is nowhere near the range of tablet dedicated apps in the Market, compared to what the App Store offers for iPad owners. But the range of apps is actually only part of the reason that Android smartphone owners may opt for the iPad.
The report by Canaccord referred to at the start, also indicated another reason for the iPad's continued success. Analyst T. Michael Walkley puts it down to a high early adoption rate of the iPad, and the high cost of moving away and purchasing a new tablet. In other words, Apple have you locked in. If you have been purchasing iPad apps for the past year, you are loathe to then move to a different tablet where you can't use those apps -- especially as tablets are still pretty costly to begin with.
The only way the current situation will change is if the iPhone 5 has a Wi-Fi hotspot so Apple can boost its market share further, or the Android tablets can somehow begin to compete on price -- a few more tablet-specific apps wouldn't go amiss either. The Android tablets of the future look much more appealing gadgets (the Sony S1 looks particularly yummy), but it may take some time to win over us iPad lovers.
In the meantime, there will be no Android vs. iPad battle in my house -- my iPad and Galaxy S2 are going to live quite happily together, and I get to enjoy the best of both worlds.
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- Android Owners Buy the iPad Over Google Powered Tablets, BGR, http://www.bgr.com/2011/07/11/android-users-buy-the-ipad-over-google-powered-tablets/
- Tablet of Choice for Android Users, All Things D, WSJ, http://allthingsd.com/20110708/tablet-of-choice-for-android-users-the-ipad/?mod=tweet
- Tablet Shipments in 2011, Eweek, http://mobile.eweek.com/c/a/Desktops-and-Notebooks/Apple-iPad-Android-Will-Power-Tablet-Shipments-in-2011-IDC-173643/
- iPad, Apple Gallery, http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/
- Galaxy 10.1 Tab, Samsung, http://www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxytab/10.1/images.html