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Google, Dell Prepare Tablet Counterattack As Apple Announces Three-Million iPad Weekend
There were questions over the weekend about how well iPad sales were going. For example, on Friday gadget blog BGR asked iPad launch day: Where are all the sell-outs?
On a conference call this morning about Apple’s just-announced stock dividend, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “We had a record weekend and we’re thrilled with it.” People immediately wondered what that meant in terms of actual sales. Around 4:00 pm Eastern Apple answered the question, announcing that it had sold three million iPads between Friday and today.
Three-Million iPad Weekend
Three million iPads is roughly 3X more than the iPad2 sold its first weekend. The meteoric rise of the iPad has surprised many analysts and caught computer makers off guard. Indeed, the iPad is now putting pressure on PC makers, which have seen their sales flatten and in some cases fall. Several PC makers have launched tablets without success: HP, Sony, Dell and Lenovo among them.
Dell in particular launched two Android (Streak) tablets that failed. Now the company says it will bet on Windows 8 as its tablet OS. According to a Reuters interview with Dell chief commercial officer Steve Felice, the company regards the tablet market as still wide open:
“We’re very encouraged by the touch capability we are seeing in the beta versions of Windows 8,” Felice told Reuters in an interview in London, adding that Dell may also make Android tablets again.
“We have a roadmap for tablets that we haven’t announced yet. You’ll see some announcements.. for the back half of the year,” he said. “We don’t think that this market is closed off in any way.”
Betting on Windows 8
Dell believes that it can best Apple in the enterprise market, where it thinks it has an edge with IT managers and can better address traditional IT concerns (security, etc.). However, the new reality is that you must have a device that appeals to consumers and not just IT professionals.
Other PC OEMs may also turn to Windows 8 if it proves to be compelling to end users. Early reviews of the preview version have been generally positive.
Google is also planning a “round two” for Android tablets.
The $199 Kindle Fire is the most successful Android tablet on the market — to the tune of perhaps 4 million sold in Q4 — but it’s more Amazon than Google. There’s no Google branding, and apps must come from the Amazon Appstore; users can’t access the Google-controlled Android Market.
Distressed by the failure of almost every Android tablet and the control Amazon exercises over the Kindle Fire, Google has vowed to bring out its own “highest quality tablet.” That tablet will apparently be 7-inches, made by Asus and retail for $149. Google is going after Amazon more than Apple.
At $149, Hypothetical Google Tablet Poised for Success
If those rumors are correct Google could see tremendous success. It would be a better overall tablet than Kindle Fire and the price would make it hard to resist for many. Google could sell millions quickly. And Google is building or has built the content assets to compete head-to-head with Amazon.
For its part Amazon would be compelled to match that $150 pricing. The combination of a $150 Kindle Fire going against a $150 Google Nexus tablet would effectively shut out almost everyone else in the category. PC makers can’t make tablets that cheap (that are worthy of consumer attention).
They would need to turn to larger form factors. And because 10-inch Android tablets have failed they might be inclined to favor Windows 8. We would thus see the classic Mac vs. Windows OS battle replicated, next-generation style, on tablets.