7 Inch Tablets Employ An Odd Definition of “Success”

TROY WOLVERTON at the San Jose Mercury News, talks 7 inch tablets:

Just two years ago, Apple’s late co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs mocked small-screened tablets as “tweeners” that were too little to compete with the larger iPad but too big to compete with smartphones.

But after the success that Amazon and Google have had with small-screen tablets…

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop right there.

Success? What success?

Success is defined as: “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”

— Research in Motion, Samsung and other manufacturers introduced tablets with seven inch screens that flopped.

— It’s been estimated that Amazon sold 4.7 million seven inch tablets over a 9 month span.

— It’s been estimated that Google sold 3 million Nexus 7, seven inch tablets over the last quarter.

That’s not a “success”. That’s anything but a “success”.

Notice that the numbers for Amazon and Google are estimates. Their respective companies have not released sales figures. There’s a reason for that.

Also note that the Amazon and Google products are subsidized, which means that they are being sold at cost. What product wouldn’t sell well if it was sold at cost? Apparently, 7 inch tablets.

By way of comparison, Apple sells more that 5 million 9.7 inch tablets every month – at full price – and Apple is conservatively expected to sell 25 million iPads this upcoming holiday quarter. Again, at full price.

I have no doubt that the 7 inch tablet category is viable and I’m guessing that – starting on October 23rd – Apple is going to prove that in a big way. However, we need to stop talking about “the success that Amazon and Google have had with small-screen tablets” or we need to get a new definition for the word “success”. I’m leaning towards the former.

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John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

17 thoughts on “7 Inch Tablets Employ An Odd Definition of “Success””

  1. Hit the nail right on the head. Although, I think it will be Windows tablets that end up dominating the market. Let’s wait and see what happens…

    1. Windows “tablets” – the quotes are for the fact that they are just PCs with a keyboard in the shape of a smart cover – will sell to the “anything but Apple” crowd. Great news for Apple, not so much for Android et al.

  2. You are right, success here is defined as doing well compared to all tablets that are not iPads. And success is declared according to the estimated sales numbers. Still, these tablets have stirred up some interest and devotees. I believe this says less about their “success” than it shows that there will be interest in the iPad Mini. It may well be more difficult to ignore an iPad Mini when attempting to declare the 7″ Fire or Nexus a “success.”

  3. Sales of non-iPad tablets are so pathetic that anything that’s not a flop is considered a success. Same vein as people considering Android a dominating success where no one other than Samsung is making money out of it.

  4. John,

    I’m not sure estimates of sales are completely useless, as long as you remember they are estimates. As Kyrke said, non-Apple tablets tablets have stirred up some interest and devotees.

  5. From today’s news elsewhere: “Several of Apple’s tablet competitors, including Amazon and Google, are selling their products roughly at cost, preferring to make money on content, advertising, or other means associated with usage of their tablets.” Can someone point me to any datapoint, or any meaningful estimate, or just some wild guess to justify this mindlessly repeated sentence?

      1. Thanks, Steve, probably I was not clear. I am aware that first part of the sentence “…selling their product at cost…” is true. What I would like to see is any sign that beside their intentions and public PR, that they actually making “money on content, advertising, or other means associated with usage of their tablets.”

        1. Ah. Well, as John Kirk has pointed out, we have no evidence whatever for that. And in Google’s case, at least, what evidence we have points the other way.

  6. And if they did release numbers there’s a good chance it would be their channel sales, not end user. Which means a good half if not more of those units are collecting dust somewhere

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