Analyst: All the iPad Contenders Are Pretenders
There were dozens of tablets on display at CES last week, but none matched the iPad, which, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore, will retain its lead in the space for the foreseeable future. “We found nothing at CES that reduces our optimism for Apple and its growing lead in the converged mobility market,” Whitmore said in a note to clients today. “In the tablet space, [the] iPad remains the gold standard and we believe the 50+ tablets coming to market this year will battle for second place.”
Taking first place is highly improbable, because by launching the iPad when it did, Apple claimed the lead not just in the tablet market, but in a handful of other areas on which that market depends–user experience, content acquisition and integration, and supply chain and build cost.
Whitmore figures Apple has a 12-18 month lead versus competitors on content and apps, and a multiyear lead on other media acquisition and integration through iTunes. He suggests that its early investment in capacitive touch technology and prepayments to touchscreen suppliers in order to guarantee supply will give it a meaningful cost advantage for some time.
And then, there’s the obvious: The iPad has been shipping for nearly a year, and its successor is already in the pipeline. “We expect iPad 2 to ship this spring, before most vendors will be introducing their first generation tablet,” said Whitmore. “For instance, Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb will ship in late 1Q at the earliest, suggesting meaningful [tablet] volumes won’t ship until 2H-11. We expect HP to announce its Palm Tablet in early February with significant volume shipments ramping in 2H-11. By then, iPad 2 will have been shipping for 3-6 months and its massive developer support lead will have expanded.”