Why the iPad Is 100 Times Better Than Alternatives

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Investing decisions are made from a mosaic of data, yet synthesizing what matters can be tough. Enter The Motley Fool poll. We show you the big headlines; you tell us what's factoring into your investing decisions and help your fellow Fools in the process.

If you think about it, the past few weeks have been remarkable for tech news writers like me. Headlines usually dedicated to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) latest iThing have instead gone to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and its Google+ social media platform, Zynga and its social gaming strategy, and Facebook's reaction to rising interest in digital socializing.

Through it all, I failed to report a critical milestone. Apple's iTunes Store now contains more than 100,000 native iPad apps, Macstories reported late last month. By contrast, Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) WebOS and apps optimized for Google's Honeycomb edition of Android feature less than 1,000 each, according to CNET's

In short, the iPad is 100 times better than its competitors.

Should investors care? Abso-freaking-lutely. History says that developers create value for the anointed when they back a platform, leaving the also-rans to wither.

Look at MySpace. Once the leading social network and the apple of Rupert Murdoch's eye, the company never found a way to match Facebook when it came to attracting code. The saga ended earlier this month when an investor group led by crooner Justin Timberlake purchased MySpace for $35 million, a fraction of the $580 million News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWS  ) paid in 2005.

Judging by the relative lack of developer support, Motorola Mobility's (NYSE: MMI  ) Xoom, HP's TouchPad, and a growing number of Android alternatives -- none of which support on-the-go TV the way the iPad does -- are rapidly becoming the tablet market's MySpace.

Do you agree? Disagree? Please vote in the poll below and then leave a comment to tell us what you think about the iPad and competing devices. You can also add Apple to your watchlist for up-to-date analysis as soon as it's published.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @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 Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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 (19) | Recommend This Article (17)

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 July 11, 2011, at 4:32 PM, DefunctAcct wrote:


    Surely a worthy competitor will eventually emerge one day soon. How soon is anyone's guess.

    Today's competitors have nothing to differentiate themselves from each other and from the iPad, so they tout Adobe FLASH, an outdated technology and then they scream about high megapixel camera and a flash. None of these are essential features and none of them are of any interest to the majority of users and the sales volume proves this point.

  • Report this Comment On July 11, 2011, at 4:34 PM, samkass wrote:

    curleyhead46: a few points: the iPad has pretty phenomenal gaming abilities-- I'd be surprised if your $900 ASUS laptop is much better at games. iPads don't have HDMI ports, true. You can buy the adapter for $40 or you can buy an AppleTV for $99 and stream HD video wirelessly from the iPad. Throw in the SD card reader adapter, USB adapter, and a nice case, and you're STILL cheaper than your $900+ laptop!

    Don't get me wrong, laptops still have their uses. But if you're going to buy one thing to do email, web, games, music, movies, augmented reality, reminders, calendars, etc... it would be silly not to consider a $499 iPad.

  • Report this Comment On July 11, 2011, at 4:35 PM, DefunctAcct wrote:


    Comparing a laptop to the iPad is comparing a SUV to a two-seat roadster, they are not even in the same class.

    I can certainly tout how my SUV can drive on the RUbicon and ford deep rivers and plow through deep snow and how the roadster can do none of that but does that matter?

    Do you really believe readers and Tim would be so easily convinced by such simplistic and erroneous comparisons?


  • Report this Comment On July 11, 2011, at 5:09 PM, baldheadeddork wrote:

    Tim, it's hard to take the site seriously when a senior writer like yourself puts out something so dumb.

    Harsh, to be sure, but let's start with how you pick facts. The Honeycomb edition of Android had its first release this last February. That's a year after the launch of the iPad. Big surprise that iOS has a lead in the number of apps.

    Now let's look at your declaration that the device that leads in the number of apps wins. How has that worked out for smartphones? Has Android withered in that market?

    I understand that your site makes a lot of its income from ad placements, and you need page views to make that profitable. But if you can't get there with genuinely useful analysis, then change your name to Yahoo Investor Boardz so the rest of us can tell you're just in it for the trolls.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 1:03 AM, lucasmonger wrote:

    As an longtime apple user (apple ][, newton, 68030 Macs all the way through the newest iDevices) it's been an interesting run to see apple pull itself from possible bankruptcy (when Michael Dell suggested apple give their money back to their shareholders) to the success they enjoy today.

    Apple went after mp3 players when there were many expensive, lackluster devices on the market and dominated.

    Apple shot for the mobile industry when everyone was building PCs (even Motorola built Macs and PCs at one time during the 90s) and music players (Microsoft Zune and Moto ROKR). Funny thing here is Microsoft made smartphones earlier.

    While the everyone (the computer industry, the mobile device industry, and even Amazon tries to build an iPad killer, Apple probably has another paradigm shift that nobody is ready for. Maybe it's a touchscreen computer or a home server of some sort. Maybe it's something completely different. Or maybe with Steve Jobs on medical leave, the big ideas have stopped. Anyway, I predict Dell and HP, as well as some of the mobile device makers will either merge or cease to exist in their present form (like IBM in the PC industry)

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 4:24 AM, b2mans wrote:

    I own no Apple products but I can tell you what Apple is up to and when you read it you will see that Jobs and the gang are creating a completely new way of computed for the average user with all these small devices. Go to and read about the IOS5 and ICloud, their functions and abilities. Then stop a few minutes and just think about how you use your computers and laptops today. Again, this would be for the AVERAGE user since the "technoid" can pretty much do whatever he or she want with todays equipment and software.

    Say what you will. Love or hate Apple, but I believe they are about to take another leap forward in an industry where everyone is going to once again be grasping at straws to keep up. Others will "patchwork" some of these technologies togather, which is already going on,....but wow, I sure like Apples forsight. If you think Ipads are selling out everywhere in the country tody, just wait till this fall. I may actually try my first Apple product.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 4:30 AM, b2mans wrote:

    Oh, and Tim, any technoid can buy an Asus Transformer, which to me is just a "tablefied" laptop, and connect it to anythng....just like a laptop! If you enjoy it, then cool. But Apple is thinking way beyond cables and hardware connectivity. Just quickly read what I pointed out in the above post and I think you will see the soon upcoming "fork in the road" for all these tablets.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 4:45 AM, b2mans wrote:

    Sorry, Tim. I think I addressed the wrong person.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 8:27 AM, Onigato wrote:

    Apple is wonderful at what they do. This is NOT actually inventing new ways for us to listen to music, talk to friends and family, or do on-the-go computing. Apple's big power is to make these things "sexy."

    iPods are credited with creating the MP3 craze. True, they made them desireable, but MP3 players existed before the iPod, they just weren't as well known.

    iPhones are toted as "the thing" in leading smartphone technology. Blackberry had the basic idea years before, and before that there was the entire Palm family of devices.

    iPads aren't even the first tablets. Toshiba had them years ago, so did Dell, and even Gateway when they were still relevent. Touch screens and everything.

    Is Apple good at what they do? Absolutly, no question. Does Apple create new devices for the public to use and enjoy? Not at all. They take an existing device, slap a few new features on it, put a lowercase i in front of the name, and it sells. Apple doesn't sell devices, Apple sells a lowercase i. And boy does that little i sell.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 2:12 PM, mikecart1 wrote:

    Apple can create all the iPads they want. This smart user is going to invest in a Dell 14R soon and there is nothing Apple or the iPad can do. At 5 lbs, I get 500gb HD, 6gb Ram, HD video card and sound, 2nd gen i3 duo processor, a DVD drive, usb drives, flash drive, and at 5lbs, it also has an actual keyboard! Under $600, Dell still drops a major squat on anything Apple can produce in that price range.

    Apple should stick with mp3 players. The iPad is an expensive useless joke.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 2:19 PM, fatmonk wrote:

    It is all about timing and design. The launch of iDevices were very a good timing when consumer is just about ready.


    other companies may have intro tablets before APPLE just like Newton was there before PALM.

    Steve Jobs really focus on detail and design issue... Apple dis not have a good design during the time between Jobs.

    Dell,HP... MOT have try to make tablets but they are making the same mistake as they have done in the past.... they are focus on features and lack of design sense.

    Look at MySpace and FaceBook... on has more features other has good design.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 2:35 PM, midnightmoney wrote:

    An article about nothing sure can get people buzzing about...nothing. That's power, though I'm not sure whose.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 3:39 PM, TiltnSpill wrote:


    I hate Apple as a company, but they continue to make products that consumers want.

    The Ipad isn't about killer specs, it's about ease of use. My wife picked up the Ipad and learned to use it without any technical training. She doesn't care that it doesn't have a USB port, SD slot,HDMI-out or optical drive; we have a desktop PC and a HTPC for these functions.

    Competitors will catch up (LIke they have in the smartphone market), but they have a lot of catching up to do.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 4:04 PM, CluckChicken wrote:

    100 times better because it has 100 times the number of apps. How many of those are actually useful? If only 1000 are useful would that make it 99 times worse?

    A Sion Xb has thousands of more after market mods then a Audi A8 does does that make it thousands of times better?

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2011, at 4:59 PM, racchole wrote:

    Did I really just hear someone say that the iPad is better because it has more apps? Out of 100,000 apps, 1% are useful. You cannot argue it any other way. This is not a matter of opinion. Opinions are a facade for someone who disagrees with logic.

    CluckChicken beat me to the punch, but it deserves to be reiterated. Many of my companions have iPhones, but I stick with Blackberry because its functionality is much more conducive to business processes and "getting sh!t done," instead of mesmorizing my shortened attention span. I have owned a Blackberry for 5 years and have downloaded a total of 3 apps because I know how to efficiently perform tasks without the assistance of extra, unnecessary software.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2011, at 4:40 AM, lowmaple wrote:

    racchole your right but may technimorons like myself like stuff you can pick up and use like a genius.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2011, at 6:31 AM, P05129 wrote:

    Curlyhead, mikecart: you need to start thinking outside of the box. Take your lugtops and go enjoy them all you want. Stream music and video with all the cables you want to attach. There is so many things that they have done well and very few things that they didn't. Apple started from the ground up and that's why they have the whole package. Why has google tv failed and all the terrible ms products like mp3 players and phones? Google and ms don't have the content and they don't have iTunes.

    For 90%+ of the population, all they need is an iPad. What do those people need in their personal lives? Email, social networking, email, games, etc..

    Everything you can do on an iPad.

    I can't imagine carrying a 5lb pc around, that is 4 times heavier than the macBook air. If you need a laptop that you want to use like an iPad that you want to use all the time, the MacBook air is it.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2011, at 1:47 PM, mikecart1 wrote:


    The iPad is missing a usable keyboard. That virtual keyboard is a disaster. It is not as accurate as a physical keyboard. The inability to load CD/DVD/Blu-Ray is another travesty. The ability to use one of their million useless apps is not a selling point either. Apple makes decent mp3 players but their computer are overpriced. Their laptops are way overpriced. Their iPad is just a marketing scheme to make dumb consumers think they need one. I won't lie. Most of my friends have iPhones. I have held back on it because my iPod 5g Video from 2005 was working. Was in that it no longer works because of the infamous sound card glitch they used in the model. Can't be mad that it did work for 5+ years straight under hot and cold weather. However, if a company like Apple can't produce or vendor a decent sound card that doesn't say a lot about their other products. I still use a shuffle and will probably get a new one if that fails.

    I now am in the market for an iPhone only because my iPod 5g failed. However, their iPad is just backwards IMO. Unless they are going to sell them with all capabilities in the $400 or less range, you are just getting another expensive piece of junk that matches their MacBook Air in terms of overrated price.

    Everything you can do on an iPad? What games can you really play competively on an iPad? Get serious. As for social networking, I use facebook maybe once a week. How about real things real people use like Excel and Word? You think I am going to use a virtual keyboard and no mouse to use Excel? Get real! Email? Maybe. But I can only imagine how difficult it would be to scroll on something so cumbersome.

    Lastly, apparently I am supposed to hold the iPad with one hand and use with the other? Will Apple pay for me to get my arm or wrist fixed from holding it so long?

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2011, at 4:00 PM, TMFAdmiral wrote:

    Hi Tim,

    Yesterday I bought an iPhone & an iPad so you must be right if an old codger like me finally buys in :-)


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