Other Mobile Devices

Which Tablet Will You Buy for the Holidays, Mrs. Nesbitt?

Despite the boffo $20 billion quarter Apple enjoyed, the iPad sold fewer units than some analysts were anticipating. It's not entirely clear whether this "under-performance" was attributable to supply constraints or less robust demand, though many believe it's the former.

Nonetheless, we heard on the Apple earnings call why Steve Jobs thinks that the iPad will continue to lead the category for some time: screen size, apps/software and price. Here's an edited portion of the earnings call transcript where Jobs discusses tablets: 

First, it appears to be just a handful of credible entrants, not exactly an avalanche. Second, almost all of them use seven-inch screens as compared to iPad's near 10-inch screen . . . [The] screens on the seven-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the iPad display.

[E]very tablet user is also a smartphone user. No tablet can compete with the mobility of a smartphone, its ease of fitting into your pocket or purse, its unobtrusiveness when used in a crowd. Given that all tablet users will already have a smartphone in their pockets, giving up precious display area to fit a tablet in our pockets is clearly the wrong tradeoff. The seven-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.

[The] iPad now has over 35,000 apps on the App Store. This new crop of tablets will have near zero . . . and [ ] our potential competitors are having a tough time coming close to iPad's pricing, even with their far smaller, far less expensive screens.

The 7' Galaxy Tab appeared to be the first viable iPad competitor; however it has received some mixed (though mainly postive reviews). The big question will be how much does it cost? Much of the information available suggests that the contract-subsidized price will be $399 and the full price will be above $600 without the subsidy. 

(Jobs all but confirmed with his criticism of the 7" model that there won't be an "iPad nano.")

That Galaxy Tab pricing may not be sufficiently aggressive relative to the iPad, whose entry level pricing is just $100 more. While I see some appeal in the 7" device -- though I admit I haven't used one -- I can see Jobs' point about screen size and diminished user experience. We'll see if the public agrees. His remark that 7" is too small to compete with the iPad and too large to replace a smartphone may be accurate. However, I could imagine some people using the Galaxy Tab as a smartphone replacement. 

Beyond the Samsung device there don't really seem to be any truly viable iPad competitors ready for the upcoming, all-important shopping season. If that proves to be true the iPad could well have what may be one of the hottest gift categories out there -- tablets -- all to itself. Plus the availability of the device from Wal-Mart, Target and BestBuy may mean spectacular US sales over the holidays. 

Google's much-hyped and much-anticipated ChromeOS notebooks were supposed to appear in Q4 this year. So far none have. But the changed landscape (read iPad) could mean those devices have somewhat diminished appeal -- unless they're very affordable (read: less than $300). 

Pew: 85% of US Adults Have Mobile Phones, One in Ten (High Earners) Own Tablets

Pew has just released some new survey data (n=3,000) -- a kind of gadget census -- that shows 85% of Americans own cell phones (vs. PCs (59%) or laptops (52%)). Three-fourths of teens have mobile phones and a whopping 96% of 18-29 year olds own mobile phones.

The total US population today is 310,480,361 people according to the US Census Bureau. There are about 225 million adults over age 19 in the US (based on 2008 data). If 85% of them (which doesn't include teens) own mobile phones that means 191,250,000 adults in the US today, using the Pew data.

According to comScore there are 212.6 million PC Internet users (August, 2010). When cell-phone owning teens are included (30.2 million) there are 221.5 million mobile phone owners in the US. Mobile Internet penetration varies based on handset type (feature phone, smartphone, iPhone). But the aggregate Nielsen mobile Internet number is now 80 million people in the US. 

Globally JP Morgan and others have predicted mobile Internet penetration and access will be greater than PC Internet access by 2014. In North America we may see the crossover happen a couple of years later -- but it will happen. 

Here's the demographic breakdown of mobile phone ownership, according to the Pew study: 

http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Gadgets/Report/~/media/2D91BA21FCB04BABBD5BCA28D805FC76.jpg?w=489&h=671&as=1

The Pew data also discuss tablets and eReaders as a growing category. According to Pew, "Around one in ten Americans with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more own a tablet PC or e-book reader, while fewer than 5% of households earning less than $50,000 per year contain one of these devices."

http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Gadgets/Report/~/media/D207FD1663914CB3AD4CFC0DDB48A6C1.jpg?w=528&h=458&as=1

Survey: Mobile Apps Not Going Away Soon

The conventional wisdom is that the "mobile Internet" and rich "web apps" (HTML5) will eventually win over native apps for mobile devices. This has long been Google's position, as well as the favored stance of many in the tech industry. But that logic may not play out as anticipated. My view is that the mobile Web, so-called Web apps and native apps will instead co-exist at least for the near-to-medium term. 

Beyond this, in the hierarchy of content on mobile devices, apps may continue to be the favored way that users (consumers, enterprises) access mobile content. A recent survey from IBM of 2,000 IT professionals and developers sees mobile as the leading development platform going forward. The other major trend identified and explored in the survey was cloud computing. 

According to the IBM survey:

The majority (55 percent) of survey respondents see mobile application development for devices such as iPhone and Android, and even tablet PCs like iPad and PlayBook, surpassing application development on other platforms over the next five years.

"Do you see mobile application development surpassing application development on other platforms over the next five years?"

How respondents see mobile application development surpassing  application development on other platforms over the next five years. 

Source: IBM, 9/10 n=2,000

The survey didn't ask about mobile Web, vs. Web apps vs. native apps. It was about mobile application development vs. other platforms (PC). But the interest in mobile applications and the bullish nature of the responses suggest that developers will keep building apps, which indirectly means that consumers will keep using them. 

While app discovery has become a major problem for developers and brands, mobile applications offer a generally better experience than the pure mobile Web. That fact plus the continuing growth of apps will power consumer usage for the next several years at least. 

Publishers Hedge with Galaxy Tab, $599 Price May Be Too High

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that many major newspaper publishers are preparing apps for the forthcoming Galaxy Tab (although presumably their existing Android apps would work). It characterizes these efforts as something of a hedge and diversification effort vs. exclusive reliance on the iPad:

Several major news organizations are lining up behind a new tablet device from Samsung Electronics Co. built on Google Inc. software, in order to broaden mobile readership beyond owners of Apple Inc. popular iPad.

New York Times Co. and News Corp.'s Wall Street Journal will offer software applications for Samsung's Galaxy Tab, which goes on sale later this year, according to people familiar with the matter. Gannett Co.'s USA Today also is developing a software application, the publisher said.

The Galaxy Tab is appealing because of it's 7" size, some of its specs and the potential (I believe) to be used as a phone. However it won't fit in your pocket. It remains to be seen how "good" the device is and whether it truly does compete with the iPad. Given the strength of the Galaxy S Android phones it probably will be a strong competitor. 

Yet the price -- a rumored $399 with two-year contract and $599 without -- may turn out to be too high to drive mass adoption. I'm guessing here of course. It depends on the device but I suspect most people will not want to buy another two-year contract and so would go for the "unlocked" version. But the $600 price point, $100 more than the low-end iPad. 

The smaller form factor and less "elegant" Android OS may cause people to see less value in the smaller but more expensive device. A $399 unlocked price point would have been more like it. 

Related: Leap to sell prepaid Android tablet next year

 

Survey: Early iPad Buyers Using Devices Almost 20 Hours per Week

NPD conducted a survey of 500 iPad owners and found that 13% had "bought an iPad instead of a PC, while 24% replaced a planned e-reader purchase with an iPad." Early iPad adopters, buying within two months of launch, are far more likely to own other Apple products (Macs, iPhones), which has already been well established by a number of earlier consumer surveys. 

Later buyers (post two months) owned Windows PCs less than the overall population too: "with just 53 percent of iPad owners overall having a Windows desktop compared to 75 percent of total households."

Early adopters reportedly used more of the iPad's features and do more with the device. Here's more from the NPD analyst's blog post

Satisfaction and usage:

  • Almost 80% of early adopters very satisfied vs. 65% of later adopters
  • Early adopters are now using iPads more than 18 hours/week; time is increasing
  • The top three activities: web, email, games

Dissatisfactions:

  • Lack of USB ports, which 51% of all users cited as top frustration 
  • Lack of an easy printing option and mutli-tasking (both addressed in November iOS update)

Favorite features/cabilities:

  • Portability of the device
  • WiFi connectivity ease/simplicity
  • E-book capabilities
  • Wide variety of apps

 

iPad Owners More Ad-Receptive, More Likely to Buy After Ad Exposure

Nielsen put out some interesting data on "connected device" users (iPad, iPhone, Kindle) comparing them demographically and in terms of their response to ads on these devices. Apple iPad users turn out to be younger and more male, and not as affluent as Kindle users according to the survey of "more than 5,000 consumers who already own a tablet computer, eReader, netbook, media player or smartphone – including 400 iPad owners."

However iPad users are much more responsive to advertising than users of other connnected devices, which is very curious. Here are the charts reflecting the findings: 

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/connected_devices_01.png

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/connected_devices_02.png

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/connected_devices_03.png

As mentioned, iPad users were more receptive and responsive to ads -- in some cases much more responsive -- than other connected device users. We're not talking about another species here. Is it that the ads on the iPad so far are more engaging or that there's a lack of clutter? 

The data about purchase behavior is also very interesting. In the highlighted box in the chart immediately above, it shows that those iPad users who made purchase after an ad exposure did so in the following ways:

  • On their PCs -- 36%
  • In the store -- 24% 
  • Over the phone -- 12%
  • On the device -- 8% 

In other words the purchase behavior was largely "latent" and took place on other "platforms." This is consistent with the way that online display ads often affect purchase behavior. Tracking and attribution become questions in the wake of these findings. 

Overall these data are very interesting and we'll see how advertising on other tablets performs in a few months. Will smaller screens on the 7" or 5" tablets matter to ad performance? I'm not sure; my hypothesis would be yes however. 

Is the Galaxy Tab a Small iPad or a Bigger Smartphone?

It appears now, definitively, that the iPad is cannibalizing PC notebook and netbook sales. This has been speculated for some time but new comments and figures appear to confirm it. The chart below was taken from a Morgan Stanely report (via Fortune). In addition, the Wall Street Journal reported that Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn said "internal estimates showed that the iPad had cannibalized sales from laptop PCs by as much as 50%." 

The iPad has sold, according to estimates, as many as 4 million to date. It's a massive hit. And there are many aggressive sales estimates out for 2011. One UBS analyst forecast that the iPad would sell 28 million units globally next year. 

Those sales projections will depend on the economy but also how viable the iPad's competition is. That brings me to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which will apparently be offered by all four major wireless carriers in the US and will cost between $200 and $300 depending on the carrier. 

See the video demo below, but the Galaxy Tab appears to be the first legitimate Android-based iPad challenger. Or is it an iPad challenger?

Some people will probably be motivated by the lower price and smaller form factor (7") to buy the Galaxy Tab as an alterative to the iPad. But it might also eat into smartphone sales. It will be usable as a phone via the carrier relationships -- making it a much (capital M) better mobile Internet device than a true smartphone.

Screen shot 2010-09-17 at 8.43.52 AM

The iPad made the world safe for the Galaxy Tab, which wouldn't exist but for the iPad. The Galaxy Tab, which will probably be a hit, will make the world safe for other small tablets. And the line between phones and tablets will blur accordingly. 

I have been talking about it for four years, but we're now firmly in the era of the "two device scenario," in which people use “Device A” (e.g., tablet) for browsing the (mobile) Internet and a phone for conventional voice communication. 

The cost of devices and data plans are gating factors to this world of separate devices for voice and data. In addition many people only want to carry one device. With its larger screen, phone capability and smartphone-like pricing the Galaxy Tab could prove to be that all-in-one device for many people. 

Regardless the proliferation of these tablet devices will further eat into netbook and potentially notebook sales even further. We're now truly in a world of mobile computing, where the PC and even the laptop are quickly going to become "secondary" devices. 

White Spaces Could Give Black Eye to Carriers

The opening up of White Spaces for Internet access (both for computers and mobile devices) could be quite a dramatic development. We wrote about this two years ago:

The idea is to create wireless broadband using this spectrum that will effectively ensure continuous and near-universal coverage for internet-connected devices (fixed and mobile). Unlike conventional radio/wireless spectrum, the “unlicensed” part of this means that no one has to pay anything to the FCC to use it. That stands in contrast to the nearly $20 billion paid as part of the recent 700MHz spectrum auction earlier this year (dominated by AT&T and Verizon).

The New York Times reports that the FCC is about to open this spectrum up in the immediate future:

This month, the F.C.C. is likely to approve what could be an even bigger expansion of the unlicensed airwaves, opening the door to supercharged Wi-Fi networks that will do away with the need to find a wireless hot spot and will provide the scaffolding for new applications that are not yet imagined . . .

The stronger, faster networks will extend broadband signals to bypassed rural areas and allow for smart electric grids, remote health monitoring and, for consumers, wireless Internet without those annoying dead zones. 

While "no one knows" how this will impact the market in the long term, here are some predictions:

  • At the most mundane level, fewer dead zones
  • More price competition for traditional Internet access providers
  • Many more connected devices often without a separate access subscription (access built in like Kindle)
  • Perhaps true mobile calling and data alternatives to the carriers 

Recognizing the potential threat, carriers, ISPs and other vested interests will attempt to "corner or co-opt" the spectrum to prevent some of these low-cost scenarios from coming to fruition.

 

Top Grossing Apps on iPad, iPhone Are Costly

Distimo is out with its July report on the various app stores, their pricing and the top ranked apps. There's lots of great data in the report. Here are the big bullets provided by the company:

  • The average price of the 100 most popular applications in Google Android Market and Palm App Catalog is higher than the average price of the entire catalogue of applications.
  • While the average price of all applications is only 16% higher in the Apple App Store for iPad than in the Apple App Store for iPhone, the average price of the 100 most popular applications is nearly three times as high in the Apple App Store for iPad.
  • Paid applications are priced lowest in Google Android Market, Nokia Ovi Store and Palm App Catalog.
  • The top three cross-store publishers that publish applications in multiple stores are Gameloft, Electronic Arts and Handmark, Inc.
  • In the Apple App Store for iPad, BlackBerry App World and Windows Marketplace for Mobile, the respective companies that run each application store are the top publishers in their own store with only a limited number of applications.
  • The top grossing publisher in the Apple App Store for iPhone is Electronic Arts, which publishes free and paid applications as well as applications with in-app purchases.

You can take a look at the report for more. I'll briefly highlight two charts that struck me.

All the app stores have a similar proportion of free to paid apps, except Android which has a much higher percentage of free apps: 

Screen shot 2010-09-02 at 7.03.39 AM

The top grossing apps on the iPad and iPhone are much more expensive than the average and it seems to indicate a pretty healthy willingness to pay on the part of Apple users. This will undoutedly make the iOS platform more attractive to certain kinds of publishers and developers. 

Screen shot 2010-09-02 at 7.03.13 AM

CardStar Launches iPad App, Coupons

Mobile loyalty platform CardStar launched an iPad app. It expands the functionality of the company's earlier iPhone app (and other smartphones) by adding coupons and deals that are tied to users' registered loyalty cards. In other words you see the deals for the companies whose cards/programs you've registered on the app. 

Here are the features of the new iPad app:

  • Scissor-Free Coupon Clipping & Hassle-Free Redemption – To select a coupon, drag and drop it onto the corresponding merchant’s digital loyalty card inside of CardStar for iPad. To redeem saved coupons, simply use the loyalty card at checkout
  • Retailer & Manufacturer Coupons – CardStar currently partners with numerous retailers and coupon providers, including Zavers, to provide a wide range of saving opportunities.
  • Personalization – CardStar helps avoid information overload by only sending coupons for retailers saved in a user’s CardStar card catalog.
  • Filtering – CardStar offers filters so users can easily see coupons they’ve previously selected or search for those from specific brands.
  • Social Sharing – Coupons can be e-mailed to friends and family through the app and users can also automatically check in through Foursquare at checkout.

One of the nice things about the new app is that offers saved on the iPad are in the "cloud." So they're automatically logged on the iPhone and other smartphone apps.

People obviously aren't going to bring the iPad to the point of sale. But they can browse deals on the couch and associate them with their registered loyalty cards. By using the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry apps at the POS, users automatically get the benefit of the coupons previously "clipped" on the iPad accordingly. 

Picture 20

In addition, one spouse can clip coupons on the iPad and the other one can use the CardStar smartphone app and get the benefit of those coupons at the POS without any knowledge of the spouse's prior iPad clipping activity. 

Adding coupons (tied to loyalty cards) is a logical move for CardStar, whose iPad app becomes something analogous to the Sunday circulars. And the automatic linkage of the deals to the loyalty card/account offers a "closed loop" to merchants. CardStar told me that they're were going to greatly expand the variety and range of coupons offered. However I believe offers presented will remain largely "personalized" via the filter of existing loyalty memberships.

CardStar is compiling some fantastic data on user behavior that it can use in a variety of ways to be determined. The company says it's had two million downloads since launch in 2009 and currently has 700,000 active mobile users. 

See our earlier posts on CardStar:

Kindle-iPad: The Tablet Market's One-Two Punch

By lowering the price and coming out with an improved device, Kindle has established itself as the "iPod of eReaders." Today Amazon said that its new Kindle was selling like mad:

More new generation Kindles were ordered in the first four weeks of availability than in the same timeframe following any other Kindle launch, making the new Kindles the fastest-selling ever. In addition, in the four weeks since the introduction of the new Kindle and Kindle 3G, customers ordered more Kindles on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk combined than any other product, continuing Kindle’s over two-year run as the bestselling product across all the products sold on Amazon.com.

The iPad rather than killing Kindle may have helped it buy forcing it to improve and lower its price, and by expanding awareness and the market in general.

Carefully positioned as a "single-purpose" device vs the iPad's multi-function capability, Kindle has carved out a solid position in the market. It threatens to extinguish all eReader competition and has (perhaps in tandem with the iPad) already caused some competitors to cancel products

For its part the iPad is showing surprising traction in the enterprise market:

When Apple Inc.'s first iPhone came out in 2007, many companies told their employees that the device wasn't appropriate for the workplace. The iPad is a different story.

The company's tablet-style device seems to be sidestepping the resistance that the iPhone and other consumer-oriented devices have faced in the corporate environment. Indeed, many businesses have raced to snap up iPads.

In addition a recent global survey of 1,100 “mobile workers” by iPass found that just over one quarter of them intended to buy an iPad: 

http://www.cultofmac.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/ipad_survey.jpg

While the Kindle is proving successful vs. competitors, the iPad has really yet to face them. Several Android tablets will be out by the end of the year and they promise to be subsidized or otherwise cheaper than the iPad.

Verizon Pad Coming Soon, How Cheap Will It Be?

There's a report out this morning that Verizon will be launching an iPad competitor in the form of an HTC built Android Tablet on November 26 in the US market. It will likely be the first genuine iPad competitor to hit.

As with Android (vs. iPhone) in general it will likely not be as polished as the iPad -- though here Flash availability may be a differentiator -- but it will likely be pretty strong or "good enough" for many people -- especially if it's cheap. 

The key issue will be cost. Here's what we said not long ago about the question of iPad challengers and pricing:

There is unlikely to be any single Android tablet that "wins" in terms of overall user experience and quality vs. the iPad -- though flash may play a larger differentiating role on tablets than it has one smartphones.

But price will be a significant factor in buying behavior, as it always is.

The market has been established by the iPad, now it's "safe" for competitors to ape the iPad but at lower price points. And if those devices are "good enough" the lower prices will be persuasive to many consumers who don't want to pay more than $500 for a device that isn't a full computer replacement. 

Verizon might totally subsidize it in exchange for a two-year data agreement or there might be a couple of price points tied to memory and/or the existence of a data contract. But you can bet that the price will seek to undercut the iPad by a significant margin. 

Related: Verizon is going to make FIOS TV available via the iPad . . . and presumably this Android tablet. 

The iPad 'Killer' Is Price

A PC World article argued that the "iPad Killers" are already dead before they're launched because Apple is locking up the supply of components needed to make competing tablets. There's also the separate question of whether competing tablets will measure up in terms of quality. However dozens of lower-cost Android tablets are anticipated over the next year.

Specifically a new Augen Android tablet is reportedly coming to Kmart stores in the US. Positioned as an eBook reader it's got full Web browsing capability and WiFi as well as access to all the Android apps. The price is $150. 

Here's a video demonstration:

There is unlikely to be any single Android tablet that "wins" in terms of overall user experience and quality vs. the iPad -- though flash may play a larger differentiating role on tablets than it has one smartphones. 

But price will be a significant factor in buying behavior, as it always is.

The market has been established by the iPad, now it's "safe" for competitors to ape the iPad but at lower price points. And if those devices are "good enough" the lower prices will be persuasive to many consumers who don't want to pay more than $500 for a device that isn't a full computer replacement. 

Price reductions have been the driving factor in Kindle's recent sales success, having dipped to $189 (it will likely fall further). I imagine we'll see a decent sub-$100 Android tablet emerge at some point as well. Price competition will likely mean millions of tablets in US homes over the next several years, with corresponding implications for advertising and e-commerce. 

Life After Microsoft: Tellme and Bing Mobile Speech Enable Windows Mobile 7

Although Microsoft chose not to provide us with a demo unit this time, we've come to understand that the company has done an excellent job of integrating Tellme's speech recognition features into the Windows Mobile 7 workflows. Greg Sterling's post from the Bing event noted the integration of Tellme in passing and provided this link to a video demonstration. The Speech@Microsoft group has adopted the "press and hold the home key" convention to invoke speech recognition which, in turn, can be used for voice dialing, to search for local businesses or to launch one of the apps on the device.

The latter two services reflect an equally deep integration of Bing and Bing Maps as the default search engine and geographic information services, respectively. As Greg notes, contrary to some of the early, very critical, reviews of the Windows Mobile 7 OS, invoking and providing commands to apps doesn't have to involve never-ending scrolling - just a few well-chosen utterances. A Microsoft spokesperson noted that alternative search service providers would be able to submit "apps or hubs for the Windows Phone 7", but it is unclear (and doubtful) that they would enjoy the same level of integration with Tellme's voice command structure. 

Life After Tellme: McCue Launches Flipboard

Tellme's co-founder and entrepreneur can add "serial" to his title now that his latest company, Flipboard, successfully launched its eponymous product and initial set of services. The Flipboard app for iPad is a dynamic mashup of newsfeeds and social media features. Users are greeted with a front page along with the invitation to "flip" through to a "Contents" page that displays multiple frames of "flippable" content: including rapid access to feeds from Facebook and Twitter as well as multiple categories of curated content with names like FlipStyle, FlipPhotos, FlipBusiness (you get the idea).

In addition to the sui generis Flip(fill-in-the-blank) there are some preselected "winners" like GigaOm, The Onion, All Things D, The Economist and a few others that streamline access to content from popular online news sources and social media. Once selected, the source can be navigated by using intuitive finger gestures (flipping). There are also icons on each story that users can touch to "like" that story or to "reply" to the original post with a comment. It's that simple... Almost.

We characterized the launch as a "success" only if you measure success by "overcapacity" (a variant of Apple/AT&T's formula for demand creation). Featured prominently on the "Contents" page of Flipboard are the obligatory links to Facebook and Twitter. However, flipping to those links initiates a "pop-up" message thanking the customer for downloading the (free) app and admitting that "we are currently limiting the rate at which we are accepting new Facebook and Twitter connections" The good news is that they believe it will take only "several hours" to "deploy new server infrastructure". This makes it a shorter wait than the line at the Apple store on the first day of iPhone4 sales.

As for the business side of Flipboard. The company has reportedly closed a $10+ million Series A round from Kleiner Perkins. As for monetization strategies, the company is admittedly "early stage" but, with leading branded content providers showing such deep interest on the new user interface and navigation technique, advertisers will not be far behind; nor will ideas for subscription services.

Tablets: How Will the Market Shake Out?

In the slate/tablet and reader world there are essentially three major competitors: iPad, Kindle and Android. However, in the "waiting in the wings" category we have HP, which has promised to release one or more tablets based on WebOS and perhaps Windows.

RIM is also about to bring out a tablet and Microsoft has vowed not to lose out in burgeoning market either.

A year from now we'll know more, after all these various devices show up and there are a dozen or so modestly priced Android tablets in the market. I predict that "pure" eReaders will fade or entirely disappear unless they're priced very aggressively or seriously upgraded.

Kindle's price is now down to $189 and Kindle DX recently upgraded and the price dropped to $379. Still at $379, DX has very little chance of gaining traction in the market unless it morphs into a more full-functioning tablet. 

But even the original, six inch Kindle won't be able to survive unless it too dramatically upgrades or re-prices itself. That's because there will be a slew of $199 or just over $200 Android tablets. The $199 Cruz Reader is just one among many coming. 

After the dust settles, the iPad is likely to occupy the "premium" segment as Apple does with laptops and desktops. Android tablets will come from many hardware OEMs but they probably won't be able to charge more than about $350 (and maybe even $250). At the bottom of the pyramid will be the eReaders, which won't be able to charge more than about $150. I'm going to speculate, however, that the price ceiling for eReaders will drop to about $100.

(I'm also going to predict that Amazon will eventually build or release its own Android tablet under the Kindle brand.)

It remains to be seen what comes from RIM and HP/Palm. But what Microsoft should do, with its partners, is develop with a fully functioning PC in a thin and light form factor. It would need a full keyboard that can be detached and/or fits nicely into a case. The iPad, while a great device, can't totally replace a notebook for "content creators." 

With the right form factor and capabilities Microsoft (and partners) could probably get up to about $500. And if such a device were to come into being it could be a big hit and also put pressure on the iPad to lower its prices. 

Despite early skepticism, the iPad has "made" the market for tablets just as the iPhone opened the door for the current generation of smartphones. Now, just as they did and are doing with the iPhone, Apple's competitors will be compelled to react and define themselves against the Apple tablet in terms of features and price.

Google Sends Maps to More Connected Cars

The car is the ultimate "mobile device" isn't it? And increasingly cars are becoming "connected" to the Internet. Google now has an impressive roster of car brands on a global basis to which users can send Google Maps directions.

According to the Google LatLong blog:

With today’s additions, drivers can send destinations from Google Maps directly to their connected vehicles in 19 countries and more than 20 different brands.

In the US alone, Send-To-Car is now available on more than 15 car brands and we hope to see even more partners join us soon.

 

On a smaller scale Mapquest and Nokia's Ovi Maps offer in-car integration. However Navteq (owned by Nokia) powers most of the PND devices that operate in vehicles in the US. In Europe it's Teleatlas, owned by TomTom. 

Yahoo: iPad Users More 'Gender Balanced'

Yahoo offers its second look at iPad users on the Yahoo network and Yahoo apps. There's nothing dramatic that the company finds but there are some interesting observations about behavior and audience composition:

The user base continues to skew male, but is becoming more gender-balanced; the male to female ratio moved from 2:1 to 3:2:

Gender 1

The sweet spot for [the iPad] user base continues to be in the 30–54 age range, and that about half of the Yahoo! iPad users have been using Yahoo! for at least six years (see charts below).

Untitled Image 3

Regarding international iPad usage, gender and age distribution are very similar to the US. 

Gender

In general, the male skew is the same internationally as it is in the U.S., though it is stronger in Japan, where male users outnumber women 4:1. Similarly, the 35–44 age cohort is the largest among all international iPad users on Yahoo!. 

Population 1

These data suggest, among other things, that there are more similarities than differences among early iPad buyers around the globe. 

___

The recently released Pew mobile report featured some interesting data at the end on eReaders and tablets:

  • 4% of Americans own eBook Readers and 46% use them to access the Internet, according to Pew's survey
  • 3% of respondents said they owned a tablet computer such as an iPad 

These figures illustrate the difficulty and peril of self-reported data and extrapolating that to the larger population. For example, if 3% of US adults (out of a total of about 228 million) actually owned a "tablet computer" that would mean 6.8 million people in the US own them.

The iPad has globally sold something more than 3 million units. Unless people didn't understand what is/was meant by the term tablet computer the survey results overstate the market. There are effectively no other tablets on the market today, except for a couple of isolated Android tablet devices that really haven't penetrated. Windows-based "tablet PCs" have largely failed and so can't be assumed to be part of this response.

Does this inflated result cast some doubt on the larger survey findings? I think directionally they're certainly accurate but may be imprecise, despite the claim of a survey margin of error "plus or minus 2.4 percentage points."  

 

Has Cisco Killed the RIM Tablet?

Earlier this week Cisco introduced an Android-based tablet called Cius. Here are the top-level specs:

  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, 3G/4G data and Bluetooth 3.0
  • HD video (720p)
  • Android operating system, with access Android marketplace applications
  • 7” diagonal, high-resolution color screen
  • HD Soundstation supports Bluetooth and USB peripherals, 10/100/1000 wired connectivity and a handset option
  • Detachable and serviceable 8-hour battery
  • Highly secure remote connections with Cisco AnyConnect Security VPN Client
  • HD audio with wideband support (tablet, HD Soundstation)

While this is a device that will reportedly support all the Android Market apps, it's aimed at business users and the enterprise.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "trials are expected to begin in the third quarter of 2010, with general availability in the first quarter of next year. Pricing hasn't been set, though a Cisco spokeswoman said Cius will cost less than $1,000."

It's unlikely that a RIM tablet -- unless miraculous -- would be competitive with the iPad in the consumer market. Instead it would fundamentally have to appeal to the core RIM business customers. However I'm sure a RIM tablet will try to have "crossover appeal."

Nothing can be said until one goes "hands on" with these things, but the Cius appears to be quite a competitive little tablet. The question then is: has the Cius just killed or substantially dimmed the enterprise prospects for RIM's rumored tablet device?

I suppose RIM could always compete on price, as it has been in the recent past with its handsets: maintaining sales and market share at the expense of margins. 

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See also Dan Miller's take on Cius: Cisco’s Wireless Android Tablet, Cius, Puts Enterprise Collaboration On the Glass

 

Amazon Adds Video, Audio to iApps

Amazon is adding video and audio capabilities to its apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch:

Amazon.com . . . today announced a new update to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch, which allows readers to enjoy the benefits of embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books. The first books to take advantage of this new technology, including Rick Steves' London by Rick Steves and Together We Cannot Fail by Terry Golway . . .

 Here are a few thoughts that immediately come to mind:

  • This reflects that more eBooks will offer multi-media going forward. And audio/video will likely become one of the distinguishing features over time vs. traditional books
  • Kindle is battling iBook (Apple's eBook store) with rich media and has taken the fight directly to Apple devices. It may have to do the same for Android tablets. Still there is no Kindle for Android
  • This is an admission by Amazon that its own Kindle devices (at least those out today) are being eclipsed by the more full-function iPad 

I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an Android-based Kindle tablet at some point in the future. In fact I would bet on it.