Dear Tablet Industry: The Opportunity to Beat the iPad on Price is Still Wide Open

By  |  Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm

That leaked Best Buy ad spoke the truth: The Verizon 3G/4G version of Motorola’s upcoming Xoom tablet is an $800 product (or, if you want to be precise, a $799 one). Motorola says a Wi-Fi-only one will go for around $600.

With both versions, an analysis of the specs you get for the money you plunk down makes the prices look…well, not nutso: The Xoom is a fancier piece of hardware than the iPad in multiple respects. But the fact remains that tablet shoppers will get to choose between an iPad that starts at $499 and has an extremely deep selection of apps and content and a Xoom that starts at $100 more and is just getting started on the apps/content front. In other words, it’s Apple that appeals to price-conscious folks. That’s an utter reversal of what seemed to be an eternal verity of tech: Apple makes high-end products but doesn’t attempt to appeal to bargain hunters.

I know there are such things as low-cost Android tablets; Archos is probably the best-known maker of them. ¬†So far, though, most of the great big companies that are taking on the iPad don’t seem to be interested in competing for the business of the teeming masses of folks for whom even $499 may sound like a stretch. The one exception: RIM, which will apparently start the PlayBook at $499. (The PlayBook has a 7″ display versus the iPad’s 9.7-incher, but otherwise looks like it’ll be a beefy piece of hardware for the price.)

When the iPad was announced more than a year ago with its $499 pricetag, I assumed we’d shortly see iPad-esque devices from other major manufacturers that undercut it by $100 or more. Hasn’t happened yet; still seems like a big opportunity to me if it can be done while still eking out a profit. I’m beginning to wonder if the first big-name $399 tablet could end up being…an iPad.


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. @jtoeman Says:

    I think it's gotta be notably more than $100 under iPad pricing. Closer to $299 to really get the consumer into a different mindspace, OR $399 with notably improved offering (MUCH more memory/connections/etc).

  2. luomat Says:

    The phrase APPLE TAX is now beleaguered!

  3. Carl Says:

    The Nook Color fits the bill and it’s only $250. I’m not sure how it’s selling, but it sure is getting a lot of attention given that it can be made into a full fledged tablet for half the price of an iPad. Note to manufacturers – we don’t all want dual or even single cameras or 3G on a tablet. We DO want nice screens, and the Viewsonic, Dell and Archos screens are too low-res to qualify.

  4. sriram Says:

    I agree, the one thing which I require from a tablet is that it should be small, fit in my hand, and have a good screen and an on screen keyboard. The maximum you can do with a tablet is surf the net, read eBooks or network with people. It is not a replacement for the regular laptop or computer. And at $250 i think The Nook Color is a bargain.

  5. Solo Says:

    I got the Nook color and as soon as I can add a few apps (email, a few games, etc) I'd say it will fill the bill as a tablet for my needs perfect. A new android update with flash is coming and B&N is adding an appstore soon…. I'd say it would qualify at that point.