My perspective on the matter is that there is simply no such thing. Not because the iPad will dominate forever, but simply because the tablet market will remain diversified. The iPad, like the Nexus 7, has its place in the market and both products appeal to different groups for different reasons.
The market for tablets is gigantic. Much bigger than I think people realize. Most forecasts I've seen estimate that half a billion tablets will be sold by 2017.
But even when we hit 500 million tablets sold I don't see the market slowing down. A market this large will require many different products and product types to fulfil the needs of tablet customers and this is why we need to drop the idea that any product will kill another.
Hi-res screen tablets could dominate holiday sales
Tablets will remain hot holiday items for the next few years at least but consumers will need to start exploring the benefits and trade-offs of the specific products they are interested in.
There is an obvious push for more high resolution screens – as evidenced by the iPad, the Nexus 7 and rumors over a Retina Display iPad mini — and these eye-catching screens certainly add to the visual experience.
But inevitably there will be tablets on the market without these screens and at lower price points. So rationalizing the importance of high-resolution screen against the price a consumer is willing to pay is going to be a trade-off in the purchasing decision.
For many corporate purchases, it is likely that price will be more important than screen resolution although there could be exceptions if the tablets were to be used in more creative environments, like a sales team carrying out presentations.
This is where understanding the job the tablet is going to do for a customer is centrally important.
In consumer markets it is likely that the screen resolution is a bigger deal because these devices will have more focused on entertainment. Consumers want these devices for playing games, browsing the web and reading, which are all enhanced with models that have higher resolution displays.
Whether it is the iPad, the Nexus 7 or even newer products coming out this holiday season, I expect screen resolution to be big focus point when consumers buy tablets.
Get ready for gigantic tablets
Picking up again on my point of the market for tablets supporting a wide range of diversification, I feel that this will also lead to a wide range of screen sizes.
We see tablets starting at the 7-inch range today and I expect more variety all the way up to even 12-inch and possibly 13-inch tablets as well. There may not be a huge market for these larger screen tablets, but I do think there are some who will find them valuable.
There are many benefits and trade-offs that come along with each screen size, and knowing which screen size is the best for you is key to making the purchasing decision.
Smaller screen tablets are more portable and more uniquely suited for entertainment tasks, while larger screen tablets are a bit more conducive to productivity tasks but are also slightly less portable.
When factoring in the trade-offs of different screen tablets, knowing the task they will be used for is key.
Convertible tablets are a compromise
As I look out forward into the future of the tablet market, there is another factor that will enter the buying process – weighing up if one device can do the job of both a tablet and a laptop.
With Windows 8, Microsoft has enabled a new class of devices that have both PC and tablet functionality. Some manufactures will create these devices with a more conventional laptop feel, others will tailor their designs for better tablet functionality.
The benefit of these products is clear. They will be ideal for buyers who want the benefits of both the tablet but who also want to use it like a traditional PC some of the time.
Devices that fit into this category may not be the best pure tablet or the best pure notebook on the market but they will appeal to a market who wants some of the capabilities of both in a single product.
As I look ahead, I'm not looking for any product to kill another. I won't be surprised if we see utter failures in the market given the experimentation that will take place, but I do think this market will sustain many varieties of the tablet form factor.
As we look to tablets to purchase this holiday season and beyond, comprehending the benefits of their features is important. Whether its price that matters, the breadth and depth of app stores or even customer support, each product will bring with it benefits and pitfalls. Understanding these will be vital to making good purchase decisions.