Photo: Dan Frommer, Business Insider
As Apple starts to see iPad competition from the likes of Google’s Android partners, it has one unique asset that its rivals don’t: Its retail empire, which includes more than 320 stores in 11 countries.Not only do Apple stores only sell iPads — no Android tablets on display, obviously — but they appear to be one of the first places our readers would think to go if they wanted to buy a tablet computer.
In mid-January, we asked Business Insider readers, “If you were going to buy a tablet, where would you buy it from?”
Of 537 respondents, 34% have chosen “Apple retail store” — the largest response by a wide margin. Another 17% said “Apple.com,” which tied for second place with “Amazon.com.”
Meanwhile, wireless carrier-owned stores — a big distribution hope for Android tablet makers — scored very low in our poll. Only 4% of respondents said they’d buy a tablet from a carrier retail store. Another 2% said they’d shop from a mobile carrier’s website.
We think this is a fundamental difference between the tablet market and the smartphone market, and is one big reason why Apple will continue to dominate the tablet market for years, despite getting passed by Android in phones.
Admittedly, this isn’t a scientific poll, and may not reflect the general population. And responses could change if amazing Android, WebOS, or Windows tablets come to market that aren’t available at Apple stores.
But it would be hard to argue that Apple stores are not a huge competitive advantage in these early days of the tablet industry.