Google just released a new tablet, the Nexus 7.
BI’s Steve Kovach says it’s better than Apple’s iPad Mini and $US100 cheaper.
In other words, it sounds exactly like the tablet I’ve been waiting for.
I haven’t bought Apple’s iPad Mini because I have been annoyed by the price. Unlike the first generation iPad, and the subsidized iPhone, Apple’s iPad Mini pricing has broken from recent Apple tradition of being sold at “the same or better” price than competitive gadgets. Instead, the iPad Mini is more expensive than the competition. And I don’t like that.
Apple’s rise to become the most valuable company in the world has been fuelled, in part, by the company’s ability to produce the best products in the market and to sell them at the same or lower prices than the competition. Apple’s premium iPhone, for example, quickly settled in at $US200 with a contract, and, so far, no competitor has undercut that for a new high-end phone. Apple’s iPad, meanwhile, was the lowest-priced and best premium tablet in the market for at least a year or two after it debuted, which allowed Apple to have the early tablet market almost to itself.
In the tablet market, especially, Apple has now been undercut on price by Amazon, Google, and other tablet manufacturers. And when Apple finally introduced a new cheaper smaller tablet last year to remain competitive–the iPad Mini–Apple chose to price it at a significant premium to competitive products.
At the time the Mini was launched, Apple was still able to argue that its small tablet was the best on the market, thus explaining if not justifying the higher price.
But now, according to Steve Kovach, the iPad Mini is no longer the best small tablet on the market. And it costs $US100 more than the better one.
Apple’s high prices and reduced (or eliminated) quality edge are probably one reason Apple’s iPad sales actually shrank last quarter–a stunning fact given how fast the tablet market is growing. And the introduction of a new, much-cheaper, and arguably better tablet from a competitor isn’t going to help that trend.
But I’m still not going to run out and buy Google’s new tablet, even though I kind of have a hankering for a small tablet.
- My digital life is now standardized on Apple products, as is my family’s. After six years of using a Mac and four years of using an iPhone, I know how to use them. I have no desire to go through the month or two of frustration that I imagine would be involved in switching to another platform. More importantly, my family’s digital library is now (mostly) iTunes’-based. My kids devour movies, and one of the big reasons for getting a tablet would be to have another device that I can hand them with a movie on it. And, at least for iTunes-based movies, I won’t be able to do that.
- I like that I can walk into Apple stores and talk to knowledgeable Apple folks about their products. I don’t do this very often, but I like that I can. For a $US200 purchase, though (e.g., a low-price tablet), I’m not sure how much I would value this. So there’s really only one thing keeping me loyal to Apple.
The Apple “ecosystem,” in other words, is the primary reason I’m not buying the Google tablet. I don’t want all that time I invested in learning how to use Apple products, and all that money my family invested in buying iTunes movies, to go to waste.
That said, the power of Apple’s ecosystem on my future purchase behaviour is much less than it used to be.
I have switched much of my online behaviour to non-Apple services over the past couple of years (email, maps, calendar, photo-storage, Kindle), and it gets easier and easier to imagine switching the rest.
So, honestly, if Apple continues to charge higher prices for less-great products, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to stick it out on the platform. And, in any event, I won’t be buying the iPad Mini–an accessory luxury that, with an iPhone and MacBook Air, I don’t really need–until Apple reduces the price.
Disclosure: I own Apple’s stock.