Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Android phones outsell iOS phones so why don't Android tablets beat up on iPads?

This seems like such an obvious question I'm amazed I've not seen it addressed more often. Android promoters gloat that their "platform" leads in sales but never explain why their tablets don't do the same. I have a theory. When most people buy a smartphone, they are thinking about its capabilities as a "phone". How many minutes do I get? Which carrier do I prefer? Is there a family plan? etc. The "smart"phone, i.e. computer aspect, is secondary. They may never address the operating system or the app stores since they are thinking in terms of replacing an old phone. Starting with that premise, anyone searching for a phone would more likely end up with Android - they are everywhere and many are less expensive than iPhones.

Buying a tablet is a different proposition. Consumers have no tablet experience so they have no natural starting point. This forces them down one of two paths. A few realize they are really buying a computer and investigate all the relevant technology and many are likely to go with Android. Most people though just buy what is available in most stores (iPad) or what their cool friends have (iPad). One of Apple's stealth moves with the first iPad was to place it in major retail outlets last year - Best Buy, Target, WalMart and Radio Shack - in addition to it's own 300+ stores worldwide. This leaves precious little prime shelf space for competing tablets.

If many smartphone purchasers aren't doing much critical thinking as I've suggested - after all they're just buying a phone - the companies may be forced to sell primarily based on price - as in the PC arena. While they may sell a lot of excellent Android handsets, they may not make sufficient profit to survive in spite of the sales figures. And speaking of sales figures, remember the difference between "shipped" and "sold". Sold is what matters; shipped means sent to retailers where they might languish for months before being sold - or returned to the maker.

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