Why the iPad Will Continue to Dominate

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Android's versioning problems are far from over. In tests this weekend, I found that none of the major streaming apps aside from YouTube work on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 I received during Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) I/O developer conference last month.

And that's after upgrading the underlying OS to the latest edition of Honeycomb, version 3.1. Knowing this, I wonder how any of us can be surprised that Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad still dominates the conversation when it comes to tablets?

To be fair, Apple users have their own issues with version 1.3 of the iPad edition of Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) . "I LOVED this app until the update prior to this last one," reviewer dailyink write of the app at Apple's website. "Now the app constantly crashes when searching titles. On series titles, it crashes upon clicking the load titles button. Once viewing it does not crash much, but will freeze for a repulsive amount of time."

Netflix also suffers from an ongoing spat between Liberty Starz (Nasdaq: LSTZA  ) and Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) . New releases once available for its signature Watch Instantly service have been pulled until licensing issues are worked through. Yet losing some flicks is better than losing access to all flicks. Android tab users don't even have that choice.

Nor do we have access to Hulu or Hulu Plus, which, although a bear to configure, also runs on my wife's iPad. Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) HBO2GO is a breeze on the pad -- just as good as Netflix and very easy to navigate. If only my Galaxy were filled with as much goodness.

But you don't need to have a tab to have trouble with streaming apps if you're an Android user. The most recent version of Netflix not only fails to function on the Galaxy, but judging from user comments it also fails to work on the HTC Incredible and experiences some issues on the HTC EVO.

Color me mystified. ABI Research has already found a general hesitancy among consumers to commit to tablets -- only 27% of those surveyed in March told the firm they were "extremely" or "very" interested in buying a tab. Of those, 57% said they'd use the device to watch TV or download movies, whereas 56% called social networking a priority and 55% cited games. Only email (82%) and Web browsing (71%) ranked higher than streaming. How can Google expect to compete when its tabs can't satisfy one of consumers' most basic expectations? Should this gap influence Google investors?

Kick off the discussion using the comments box below. And if you're interested in learning more about how the Internet is transforming everything from the TV to the telephone, take a minute to watch this free video right now. You'll walk away with a stock idea from our Motley Fool Rule Breakers scorecard and a richer understanding of the cloud computing revolution.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple, Google, and Time Warner at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Netflix, and Google, buying puts in Netflix, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (12)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 21, 2011, at 8:23 PM, jz1492 wrote:

    Tablets are a whole different game. Smart phones are much cheaper (subsidized) and more frequently replaced --after all, they are mainly purchased as phones, not as computing devices. That's why Android phones appear to defy some traditional PC trends, like the one where people flock to the platform with the most and best applications. Android phones are nicer feature-phones.

    On the other hand, tablets are just for apps, and the crushing advantage Apple has with the AppStore will prove definitive.

  • Report this Comment On June 21, 2011, at 8:43 PM, melegross wrote:

    The problem is that Google rushes their software out to market before it's ready. They are, after all, the perpetual beta company. If they did the right thing, and came out with a major release once every six months, or better yet, once a year, with just minor bug fixes and security releases when required, users would be much better off.

    But they're in such a rush for marketshare and bragging rights, that things rarely work as expected.

    This is a good example.

  • Report this Comment On June 21, 2011, at 9:11 PM, MattZN wrote:

    Android software is definitely a bit rougher around the edges, but not nearly as rough as Microsoft software was for nearly 20 years. It did not prove a hindrance to MS and it won't prove a hindrance to Google either.

    Android itself is a bit more buggy than Apple's iOS but not inordinately so. My Apple iPad still can't connect to half the wifi base stations out there (primarily wireless-N base stations) and has serious packet loss with a bunch more, whereas my Android phone has no problem connecting to everything I throw at it, and far better range to boot. Apple is not without its problems. It is rather unfortunate that Apple's solution is to try to get people to buy Airport instead of actually fixing the software bugs creating the compatibility problems with base stations.

    It's kinda hard to blame Google for vendor apps crashing. Vendor apps crash on the iPad too. Not quite as often, but they definitely still crash. I can crash the CNN and CNBC apps on my iPad trivially. Hopefully the vendors will start taking the apps a bit more seriously as time goes on.

    Right now Apple's iPad is at the top of the heap of pads, and Android-based phones are at the top of the heap of phones (or at least, getting there fast). Both have operating systems plenty powerful enough to compete with each other in both arenas.

    The competition is good. This isn't the olden days where we had to eat the junk Microsoft was shoving down our throats. Competition is forcing all actors to make their software better.


  • Report this Comment On June 21, 2011, at 9:41 PM, steveonyx wrote:

    We are now some 15 months since the iPad began shipping and there is still no serious competition out there. Apple is the only company in the world that could have pulled this off. They leveraged the iOS asset and the rest of their software assets in a way that has absolutely left the competitors wondering what to do next.

    The best part (for Apple) is that many of the competitors have no other choice than to make a big bet on Android. Google is not really committed to Android in the way that these competitors needs Google to be. And so, Apple will continue to dominate this space for a very long time.

    And I'll keep making money by trading Apple stock and Apple options. Track my Apple trades at:

    Go iPad!

  • Report this Comment On June 21, 2011, at 11:31 PM, johnhodson wrote:

    I own an Ipad. It's a neat device but I feel that Apple has crippled it and will eventually face the consequences. Difficult printing (unless you have one of the few HP Airprint prints), lack of Flash support, no true file system, dependency on being connected to another computer or network, etc. make it less than a ideal device.

  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2011, at 3:24 PM, chadhenage13 wrote:

    Not sure what the other user is talking about connecting to other base stations. I've used my iPad 2 with at least 10 different base stations with no problems. Second, I think everyone underestimates the value of iCloud if you are using or are considering purchasing an iPad, iMac, iPhone, etc. MobileMe was a good idea but not worth the $99 a year. With iCloud you get the main benefits of MobileMe for nothing! This drives the reason more and more users of one piece of Apple hardware will want to choose another piece. This is Apple creating a tie between extremely popular products like the iPhone and iPad and pushing the demand out to not only future versions of these devices but also other Mac hardware. Last, keep in mind I'm not aware of anyone who makes a tablet or phone that has the ease of syncing and choosing what's available on your table like Apple has through iTunes.

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