Can the Sheer Number of Coming Windows Tablets Bury the iPad?

As the iconic tablet, the iPad has an inherent advantage over competitors in terms of name recognition. But such recognition also comes with the risk of "iPad" becoming the generic term for any tablet computer. When shoppers start thinking of the terms "iPad" and "tablet" interchangeably, then Apple (nasdaq: aapl) could have a problem selling its pricier product line as tablet computers become viewed as commodities.

And that's how Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) , maker of the Surface line of tablets, along with the other manufacturers of Windows tablets, can hope to get some traction -- if not dominance -- with their devices: by competing on price while staying close to Apple on performance.

There are now two of the latest iPads: the iPad Retina with a 9.7-inch display and a price starting at $499; and the iPad Mini, with a 7.9-inch display and a price starting at $329. Add $130 to those prices for cellular connectivity in addition to Wi-Fi, and then add another $100 for each addition to the standard 16 GB of memory, and the price can get pretty high.

Maxing out the memory at 128 GB on a cellular-enabled iPad brings the price to $929. Doing the same to a maxed-out 64 GB iPad Mini adds up to $659. Keyboards, stands, covers, etc., would keep adding on to the cost.

Given those prices, it would be understandable for consumers to check out Apple's competition and see what they can get for their dollars.

The big question is, are any of the increasing number of different Windows tablets realistically capable of putting a sizable dent into Apple's share of the tablet pie?

Let's start with Microsoft's own tablets. The company's Surface line only met expectations if those included Microsoft having to take a hit for $900 million in unsold tablets for the company's fiscal year ending in June.

Obviously, the Surface didn't make much of a splash after its introduction last year. Part of the problem could be the confusion among consumers over which version of the Windows tablet to buy with which operating system: Windows 8 or Windows RT. The operating systems need different chips and cannot share apps. The poor reviews engendered by Windows RT's lack of flexibility also didn't help sales.

But that didn't stop Microsoft from planning to release two of its three new Surface tablets with Windows RT, the Surface 2 and the smaller Surface, one with an 8-inch display. But buyers beware: Microsoft has removed "RT" from those tablets' names. The Surface Pro 2 will come with Windows 8.1 Pro, however. Prices for the new Surfaces are not yet available.

Here are the other Windows tablets.

Acer is releasing its W3-810, an 8-inch tablet selling for $349. Paul Thurrott, in his Fall 2013 Windows Tablet Preview, says this is the same as the "terrible" Acer W3 but with more capable processor.

Then there is the ASUS Transformer Book Trio T100TA, at 10.1-inches and $329. It comes with a docking keyboard.

Dell is coming out with two tablets, an 8-inch version called the Venue, and a 10.8-inch version as yet unnamed. The smaller one has a price of $299, and the larger one, $399.

Lenovo also is coming out with a large and small tablet. The 8-inch Miix 8 goes for only $249 and comes with a keyboard. The Miix 2 has a 10.1-inch screen and will sell for $449.

Nokia is coming out with a 10.1-inch tablet running Windows RT on a quad-core Qualcomm 8974 ARM processor. The $499 price tag is a bit steep for an RT machine. And how, I wonder, will this tablet mesh with Microsoft's Surface line if the acquisition goes through?

Finally, Toshiba is coming out with the Encore, a mini-size tablet selling for $329.

So, that's 11 Windows tablets coming out this season, with base prices ranging from $249 to $499 (not counting the Microsoft tablets that are not yet priced). Will the variety of Windows devices provide viable alternatives to the iPad at price points attractive enough to turn shoppers' heads? And, if so, would Apple be able to respond with cheaper iPads?

I don't think Apple has to worry – yet -- about Windows competition, but let's not forget about that other OS that already has overtaken Apple globally on the smartphone front: Android. Google's Nexus 7 tablet sells for $299, and CNET said, "Pound for pound, the Nexus 7 is the best small tablet you can buy."

And a 16 GB 4G LTE Nexus 7 costs only $350, next to a comparable iPad Mini's price of $459. That really could make a difference come holiday shopping time.

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  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 7:38 PM, speechisntfree wrote:

    "Can the Sheer Number of Coming Windows Tablets Bury the iPad?"

    Can the Sheer Number of Ridiculous Articles From Blogger Shills Bury Motley Fool?

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 7:58 PM, Stkspeculator wrote:

    Yes, Dan, the iPad will be buried due to the sheer number of tablets coming out. Pay no attention to Microsoft's $900M write down because the first generation didn't sell. Or, the fact that the other manufacturers were practically giving them away and Apple was still grossly outselling them. But, you succeeded, I "clicked" for you, and that was the purpose of your article. Congrats. Now, why don't you join the chorus of other bloggers and go write an article on how the new iPhones won't sell, so you can eat more crow, in the near future?

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 8:14 PM, marv08 wrote:

    "And, if so, would Apple be able to respond with cheaper iPads?"

    Well, Apple always had a cheaper, last gen, iPad and come October we will see what will replace the iPad 2 in this role, and if there will be a "last gen" Mini as well.

    While "full" Windows devices with at least a Haswell i5 CPU do stand a chance (but are certainly not any cheaper than iPads) as laptop replacements, the staggering lack of apps will make sure that RT remains stillborn. Developers were widely ignoring it before the $900m write-down, and are even less enthusiastic now.

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 9:09 PM, doawithlife wrote:

    Guess it all depends on the press.

    Press gets free Apple products at every press release. MS doesn't do the same.

    Press loves Apple because of free items, so they sell write articles (advertisements) for free.

    Press hates MS because they do not give out thousands in free products.

    "by competing on price while staying close to Apple on performance."

    Surface Pro gets 10% better on most benchmarks then Macbook air. Macbook costs more, so yeah that statement doesn't make sense.

    Both can run MacOSx and Windows XP 64-bit through Windows 8.

    They both use almost identical hardware.

    The press is the only difference. (Plus MS advertisements look like a 5 year old wrote them)

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2013, at 10:34 PM, IloveLinux wrote:

    If we base projections on MSFT Surface then Windows based tablets won't sell well. People use tablets for consumption over production. Apple continues to create a buzz for its products. News conferences and excitement. Google has Google Glass and the Nexus 7 and 10.

    You have to get the public interested. The amount of apps aren't important its the quality. IOS also have a large edge because of its resistance to malware. The Apple stores are filled with helpful minions ready to explain each and every feature. Ask questions at a Best Buy and see if anybody knows anything.

    The simple truth is MSFT is late to the party and the public left with a new cute guy or girl.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2013, at 4:02 PM, MiketheITGuy wrote:

    If you are aware of what advances in processor technology are coming in the next 12-24 months you would know that only Microsoft is positioned to take advantage of future technology. Within the next 6 months Windows 8 tablets will match or beat Apple/Google in price and battery life while offering much more power. Bay Trail Tablets will be available for Xmas (although I would wait until early 2014 for the 64 bit versions) that offer more computing power, great battery life at a lower cost than Apple's offerings.

    Apple's vision for what a tablet can do has remained stagnant. A Microsoft tablet will function as a tablet, with a docking station can function as a desktop, and will connect to your TV replacing your Xbox.

    Even though it may seem counter-intuitive to suggest that Apple/Google has "already" lost the tablet war they are already 2-3 years behind Microsoft in developing a tablet O/S that can take advantage what Intel has coming in the near future. I don't see them catching up...

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2013, at 3:36 PM, oolzie wrote:

    They won't bury the ipad and they shouldn't. What they will do is help the PC industry in general and give people really valid useful options compared to the more limited ipads and android tablets. There's nothing wrong with an ipad, it's a great device, but what it does is whet your appetite for something that can do more while offering all those same conveniences and usage scenarios and that's where Windows 8 and the new crop of devices come into play. I can understand people simply wanting an ipad, but a lot of people want functionality more than they want a brand and again, this is where these new, more power, lower cost Win8 devices have an edge. You simply can't beat a $349 device that can be a tablet or a laptop and give you all the functionality of a computer in a 2lb device that gets 10 hours of battery life.

  • Report this Comment On September 27, 2013, at 9:31 AM, XMFDRadovsky wrote:

    oolzie,

    You make a good point, but the $349 price tag on a first generation Surface RT doesn't give you the functionality you envision. To get there, you would be paying closer to $1,000 for the Surface 2 Pro ... and that gets you out of the iPad price range and into that of the Mac Air.

    Dan

  • Report this Comment On September 30, 2013, at 3:46 PM, ghstflame wrote:

    ASUS Transformer Book Trio T100TA

    This will sell like hotcakes as long as the hardware isn't a steaming pile of you know what.

  • Report this Comment On September 30, 2013, at 3:54 PM, KombatKarl wrote:

    The iPad is already buried. Have you not seen marketshare numbers lately? The Kindle Fire and Nexus tablets have given Android the market share.

    http://venturebeat.com/2013/07/29/apples-ipad-market-share-c...

    And phone market share if you're interested.

    http://venturebeat.com/2013/08/01/android-reaches-massive-80...

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