Can the iPad (and the PC) Withstand the Cheap Tablet Onslaught?

The iPad Air officially became available around the world today. Supplies appear to be readily available in the US but have slipped in some international markets. In the US the 128GB T-Mobile version now has a 5 - 10 business day wait. (Update: New York is reportedly selling out of some models.) 

The new iPad Retina Mini will become available "later in November." There are undoutedly many people trying to decide which one to buy (iPad Air vs. iPad Mini Retina). 

Beyond the iPad there are the Nexus 7, Kindle HD tablets and Samsung's Galaxy Tabs. The best of that group remains the Nexus 7. However the Nexus 7 is not as polished or quite as good as the new iPads, though it is cheaper. And lower cost is a meaningful factor for many people.

These three makers form a middle tier of price and quality after the iPad.  

 

However, at the bottom, there are scores of "no-name" Android devices selling for less than $150. Many (as in the graphic above) are selling for under $100.

These super-cheap tablets are likely to have battery life and performance issues. They're not going to last little more than about a year if that (my original Nexus 7 broke twice in the same year with eventual total screen failure). Still, low pricing will make them very attractive to some. Indeed the prices are so low in some of these cases they can even be treated as disposable.

These low-end Android tablets will undoubtedly boost Android's share of the market. In the US the iPad still is responsible for more than 80% of tablet-generated web traffic. We'll have to revisit those data in Q1 2014. 

There are a couple of ways to see the potential impact of the proliferation of low-end Android tablets. They're not mutually exclusive 1) they will take share from the iPad and 2) they will expand the market for tablets to more price-sensitive groups who otherwise wouldn't pay a premium for an iPad.  

Regardless, the tablet explosion is not going to be good news for Q4 PC sales. People are likely to avoid replacing or buying new PCs in favor of smartphones and tablets.