Tablet Wars

The tablet market has firmly entrenched itself in the consumer landscape and shows no signs of eroding anytime in the near or distant future. As Steve Jobs proclaimed, we are living in the post-PC era. Although not the first tablet on the market, Apple’s iPad has seized a firm grasp on the market-and-mind share of the public regarding tablets. So, when it comes to the iPad, there is no competition. Naturally, Google has something to say about that.

According to reports, Google is looking to launch a 7-inch tablet with Asus at a $200 prince point some time in Q3 2012, through an online store, alongside other co-branded tablets from Samsung and Asus. It appears their goal is to build a tablet to compete, if not rival the iPad but Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

This is not new grounds for Google as they tried this approach with its Google Nexus One smartphone through its own online store two years ago, but shelved the efforts after disappointing sales. In case of role reversal, Google is playing the role of David versus Apple and to a lesser extent Amazon’s Goliath.

“We are currently modeling 48 million iPad shipments for calendar 2012,” according to Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu. In a few months, Amazon has sold more than 3 million Kindle Fires, entrenching it as the number two tablet on the market.

More than a strong brand name will be needed for Google to seriously consider making a dent in the tablet market. Apple and Amazon’s tablet success is based on several factors.

The iPad seamless integration into Apple’s iTunes ecosystem provides a wealth of media content for customers to consume, in addition to the incredibly robust App Store, which expands the capabilities of the tablet through 3rd party software. Likewise, the Kindle benefits from the connection to Amazon.com, where e-books, music, movies, apps, and more are a click away.

While the iPad boasts the more impressive hardware specs and is available for $499 & up, Amazon has been able to make the Kindle competitive in the market by offering the Kindle Fire for $199.

Earlier this month, Google consolidated its apps, e-books, and digital movies and movie businesses into one location called Google Play in order to align to align itself against Apple and Amazon.

But questions still remain: will purchasing a Google tablet require a two-year data contract from a cellular partner and will there be an infrastructure to support the tablet.

The biggest question for Google isn’t if, rather how… how soon and how good?

Sources: Computerworld.com, InternetRetailer.com, and AllThingsD.com

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