Contracts are killing Android tablet sales

Don’t lie, Android fans. So far, sales of Android tablets suck. Apple is selling millions upon millions of iPads while Android hardware vendors scratching their heads wondering why their tablets aren’t selling even remotely as well. Sure the software was buggy at first and prices are often not where they should be, but things have been improving. So what’s the real reason? Contracts.

“Honestly, we’re not doing very well in the tablet market,” said Hankil Yoon, a product strategy executive for Samsung. Yeah, no kidding. It’s because Samsung, like nearly all other manufacturers shipping Android tablets, requires a carrier contract with most of its tablets. The new Galaxy Tab 7.7 goes on sale at Verizon Wireless for $499 on March 1st. That’s the same price as the entry-level iPad — not bad, right? Well this guy requires a two-year contract with Verizon and that means you’ll be paying $30 per month after that initial price for data. Total cost of ownership after two years? $1,220.

Apple sells two types of iPads: WiFi and WiFi plus 3G. The former is for people who are completely positive they will not need 3G connectivity and/or don’t want to pay a monthly fee once they buy the tablet. The latter model is for people who do want the 3G, but the good news here is that there’s no contract involved. If you buy a 3G iPad, you can turn that functionality on or off as much as you damn well please and you’ll only be charged for the months you actually use it.

That’s one conspicuous reason why Apple is winning and Android vendors are failing.

Blake Stimac of IntoMobile wrote a great opinion piece earlier this month speculating that 2012 should be the year we see more “affordable, but capable” tablets. I suspect this will stand true for many new tablets this year, but for the devices that remain tied down by a contract, 2012 will continue to be a struggle.

[via ZDNet]

  • I think these is so true plus every other tablet wants to look like an ipad.  I think Apple and BlackBerry will be the only ones standing. BlackBerry is in a great position of making changes that can help it become better than Android and the tablet is awesome.  Android is meh. 

    • Anonymous

      who is this “blackberry” you speak of

  • Jay Rathbun

    Contracts hurt, but so does fragmentation in the OS.  They need to have better control over what overlays are put over the operating system, and getting ICS on all the devices..

    • That is an issue as well, but I think one would have to be somewhat technologically inclined to understand what fragmentation is.

  • Superior Android

    Android Manufacturers need to sell their tablets directly. by the time they hit the shelves at retailers they price has gone up because the retailers want to make money too.

    The carriers are greedy because they sell tablets at full price AND want you to sign a contract.

    Android Manufacturers spend ZERO dollars on advertisement. most people never even heard of an Android tablet let alone saw one on a commercial doing something useful.

    The only real way to make a dent in apple’s market share is for all manufacturers to come together and attack on multiple fronts.

    – release all their high end tablets at rock bottom prices. $350 for 10.1″ tablets and $200 for 7″ tablets.

    – fix the Market place

    – advertise !!

  • nope the real truth is people are confused on buyin tablets with android because now your phone is becoming your main source and its kinda stupid to have 2 devices to do the same thing and 1 without a data plans 

    and ummm the samsung note is a phone and a tablet with a 5.3 inch screen

    no need for a tablet if u have that phone in fact that phone soo confused on being a tablet/phone 

    it has a stylus pen soo 

    Google dont b sad when your quad core phone come out and you really dont see tabs. smh

    • If the phone is becoming the main source and it’s stupid to have two devices, why are iPads selling so well?

      • Daniel Greenfield

        Marketing. Cachet. 

  • Narmer122

    Ok, am i just completely dreaming here or are Android tablets somehow different than any other device that has 3g or 4g capabilities? I don’t have any tablet (don’t make fun) but I do keep my old Vibrant (galaxy s – t-mobile) around to use for games, audio and *gasp* accessing apps and the internet (email) over the WiFi in my house. I bring it when I travel for work and do the same thing in hotels. Traveling I do that to give my Sensation a break (I’m always using it for gps) but at home I do it mostly because my phone and computer are on one side of the house and the vibrant I can keep elsewhere. And I keep the thing because I believe in having a backup. Is there something preventing people from using tablets over only WiFi? I feel like the biggest problem is the main retailers for android devices are the sleazeball carriers, while ipads are mostly should through beautiful Apple stores, and Apple’s product was fully ready for release, while (mostly) Samsung et al rushed the first several models, without having optimized Android.

  • Edlong

    I said this when the first Android Tablet hit the market with a contract. I walked out without a tablet. I felt shafted because I didn’t want an iPad. Well, I didn’t want a monthly cost either.
    The iPad is the only device that I know of that has this type of deal. Makes me think Apple is holding it over the heads of the network providers some how.

  • Aiz

    It also doesn’t help that the majority of Android tablets suck.

  • SJJ

    I don’t think this is true.  I can go over to Best Buy and get all the good Android tablets Wi-Fi. The Samsung Family, Xoom, Transformer, Kindle, Nook and Acer family are all there.  If you buy anything else, you’re likely to be dissapointed.

  • Daniel Greenfield

    I’m mystified by this article. There are a number of android tablets available which do not require any contract: Asus Transformer, Samsung Galaxy, Acer A200, Sony Tablet S, among others. The main reason why they are not selling is the lack of marketing, but also the fact that for many people who have smartphones, it is hard to justify another “toy”. Much of the current crop of android tablets are very similar to the now-obsolete PDA’s of 10-15 years ago. PDA’s did not survive, mainly because they were a niche device, between phones and laptops. Tablets are also a niche product. Without lots of marketing and price cuts, they will not be around in a few more years. 

  • Consumer interest in using tablets to host e-reader apps contributed to the increased tablet sales. It is this market segment that contributed to the boost in Android tablet devices, according to the IDC analysis.

  • Even if you go with the iPad 2, you’ll have a choice between a standard Wi-Fi model, which needs access to a Wi-Fi network to connect to the Internet, and a 3G model, which connects via 3G when Wi-Fi is not available. With either model, you then have a choice of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage.

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