During CES this year, we kept hearing that 2011 was going to be the “Year of the Tablet”. What we didn’t know then was that it truly was the tablet, just one, that being the iPad. In fact, it’s now looking like one of the worst moves any manufacturer can make at the moment is to bring a non-iPad tablet to market.
After stores like Best Buy told HP they wanted to return large numbers of unsold TouchPad tablets and HP pulled out of the mobile OS business all together, huge numbers of TouchPads running the now-discontinued webOS have been slashed in price down as low as $99. For a device that started at $500 less than two months ago, that’s pretty exceptional. People who would never have considered the tablet at its launch price, are now buying multiples at $99, because it’s just too good a deal to pass up.
HP is the most dramatic example, but certainly not the only one. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is having patent-suit-fueled problems around the world, and in the United States, where they never went off sale, they’ve become a high value giveaway. Best Buy is planning to offer a free Galaxy Tab 10.1 with the purchase of 46-inch and 55-inch LED 3D TVs, in the $1500 – $2000 price range. With the Tab 10.1 still retailing at about $500, that is a persuasive enticement to get a new TV. Best Buy’s promotion will begin August 21 and run through the 27th.
Meanwhile the iPad continues to sell well at prices from $500 – $830. It appears Apple’s year-plus lead in bringing tablets to market may have earned them an insurmountable head start in sales. There are still plenty of people unconvinced that the tablet platform is for them, and others that have sworn not to buy Apple products ever. But, if things continue as they are, will they have a choice much longer?