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.