The Apple rumor mill is in running at full speed with speculative stories about the impending release of a smaller version of the iPad. Will such a device come to market? The late CEO Steve Jobs famously dissed the 7-inch form factor as dead on arrival and up until the release of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, his assessment has largely been on target.
The thinking is that Apple needs to bring out a lower cost, smaller 7- or 8-inch tablet to stem the growing popularity of the Kindle Fire and the expected release of another low-cost, 7-inch tablet from Google in the next few months.
But in a piece that argues against Apple entering the smaller tablet market, Forbes notes Kindle Fire sales have cooled. IDC says Amazon shipped only 750,000 Kindle Fire tablets during Q1, a sharp fall from the 4.8 million shipped during Q4 2011.
“…the below-par performance of the Kindle Fire and the overall Android tablet market in general emphatically dispels concerns that the iPad’s sales might take a beating unless Apple comes out with a smaller iPad,” says Forbes.
The Kindle Fire and other low-cost tablets may do well, but the Forbes piece argues the market is big enough to support different segments.
“Apple has also historically avoided playing the volume game, preferring instead to have a niche market following while cornering most of the industry profits. Even in the mobile phone business, where its iPhones are selling like hotcakes, its global market share is in single digits but it takes up more than three-fourths of the industry’s profits because of its high margins.”
Media tablets one year later & Windows 8 on deck
Randy Nunez, the Technical Expert for Mobile Computing Technologies at Ford, had some interesting observations in his blog this week about the growth in tablet adoption and the evolution of how they’re being used. You may have read some of Nunez insights earlier this month in the coverage of TabTimes Tablet Strategy conference where he was one of the speakers.
“One of the mind-blowing things is how quickly media tablets have progressed from the consumer market to the corporate ranks. Just a year ago media tablets were soft of a novelty or a status symbol,” Nunez says in the post.
He notes one of the big changes is the evolution of the media tablet from a consumption-centric device to a content creation device. “Granted, it probably won’t replace every creation tool in your arsenal, but I’m not sure it has to,” he says.
As for competitors to the iPad, Nunez isn’t sure which vendor will step up. Android’s been hurt by fragmentation and RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook has, as he generously states, had a lukewarm reception.
Windows 8 is the big wildcard, but Nunez says Microsoft can’t rely strictly on its enterprise expertise to be successful:
“IT organizations can no longer wait around for technologies to become rock-solid, enterprise-ready solutions. We need to start early, with the consumer trends, or risk becoming the ‘Party of No’, or worse, irrelevant.”
YouTube faces mobile challengers
YouTube dominates the online video space but a number of upstart companies are starting to chip away when it comes to mobile devices.
An in-depth report by Reuters looked at several of the companies including Socialcam, a video-sharing social network that lets users record, upload and view videos straight from their iPhones.
Reuters says over 36 million have signed up for SocialCam, one of two newer mobile-video sharing apps (the other is Viddy) whose fast growth is getting attention. In the past two weeks, both apps have hovered near the top of the Apple App Store's download charts, beating even popular downloads like Instagram, the photo-sharing service acquired by Facebook last month for $1 billion, and Draw Something, the mobile game that became an overnight smash hit in March.
These companies and others hope to cash in on the fact that devices like the iPhone and iPad now incorporate video recording capabilities and are available with 4G connectivity that lets users stream and upload large video files that would have been a hassle just a few short years ago.
"The fact that we are no longer constrained by bandwidth and network limitations means greater deployment of new technologies that push the boundaries of innovation," says Ofer Shapiro, CEO of Vidyo, the maker of videoconferencing apps for businesses that supports both Apple and Google Android mobile devices.