Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and four of the top tech companies in the world and all are competitive in the tablet computer war as the market segment continues to grow at dramatic rates from year to year. While that explosive growth will slow if not stop at some point, it is still a relatively new market. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities for Tim Cook, Larry Page, Steve Ballmer and Jeff Bezos to put their stamps on the market with their companies’ innovations and marketing.
And while the tablet market is basically in a slow period leading up to the holiday shopping season and there have been some similarities among devices, and there have been enough time for companies to develop a level of loyalty among users, so it will soon be time to go after the uncommitted audience in the tablet segment, a segment that seems to grow every year.
Carol Kopp of Minyanville, however, has provided some hints of three possible catalysts for growth and changes in market share as we enter the fall shopping season and put the summer doldrums behind us.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT): Fighting Over XP?
For those of us who have used Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows over the years, especially here in the U.S., you might be surprised to learn that Windows XP still exists. A recent report revealed that about 37 percent of the world’s Windows computers still run on the XP platform – and this includes more than seven of 10 Windows computers in China.
However, Redmond finally revealed recently that XP will finally be retired in April of next year. And wihen that OS finally loses support, it will be time for an estimated 570 million computers (desktops and laptops) will be retired, and those millions of users will have to decide where they are going – will they mostly jump into the tablet market if they haven’t done so yet?
It certainly is likely that many of those desktop and laptop users already have tablets, but there are also some new tablet customers on the horizon when XP goes away for good. The question for these major companies will be how much loyalty will these Windows users have to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and how hard will Microsoft work to keep that loyalty?
Kopp mentioned that by the spring, all four major competitors will have new tablet devices on the market. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) should have new iPad and IPad Mini devices, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) will have new Kindle Fire devices, and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has already put out a new Nexus 7 and is expected to put out a new Nexus 10 (and there is also a rumored larger tablet). The market is expected to intensify with these millions of XP refugees.
The 350-Dollar Ceiling
And for those who may likely get into the tablet market may be looking for something affordable, and they will be in luck thanks to the sub-market of 7-inch tablets. While the larger, 10-inch slates were the standard with the introduction of the iPad in 2007, there has been a very large entry-level market with smaller devices,and it seems that the demand for tablets is quite strong for those tablets that were $350 or less.
It seems that there is a much smaller market demand for devices that are pricier, except perhaps for business or enterprise uses.
If that holds true with this new crop of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows XP refugees, then Microsoft might be in trouble – the two most prominent tablets in the entry-level segment are Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-based devices, the native Nexus and the Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire. Microsoft and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) struggle to be priced in that $350 price point, so it will be a challenge for them with this new market.
But that is not to say that these new tablet customers are just looking for cheap tablets, or that the tablets themselves are cheap and have second-rate components or features. It has been dizzying to see the progress of these tablets, as some of the newer devices are hitting the market under that $350 price point that have some of the latest features, faster processors, better-resolution screens, and some are being listed at the same price point as older versions from a year earlier.
With Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) already in this price point with the better features, there is a definite challenge for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to get into this price range and not compromise their premium features.
This part of the tablet market will likely be heavily watched by prominent investors, including fund managers David Einhorn, David Tepper and Stephen Mandel, who will be monitoring the various sales efforts. To see some of this intense market, take a look at the tablet-comparison video below.