Apple’s iPad will be dominant until…

on May 24, 2012

Watching the professional industry watchers speculate on how long Apple’s iPad will dominate its market segment is kind of funny. Will it be 2012, 2013, no it’s going to be 2015 and then they will fall, right?

iPad screen imageThe funny part is that nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen, but the pronouncements of Apple’s pending demise are delivered with the confidence of someone that has seen into the future. That is of course, until the sales numbers prove them wrong — then another date of demise is announced a couple of years further into the future, and the cycle seems to endlessly repeat itself.

At some point you have to be correct, right?

Just like when the iPhone was first released, many people didn’t think the iPad would be successful. When it was, everyone started to look at when the competitors would topple Apple’s seemingly unsurmountable market lead.

Maybe the RIM PlayBook (Yes, that’s a joke), or one of the many Android tablets that hit the market every other week. So far, nothing has even come close.

There are two things that prognosticators seem to neglect when forecasting Apple’s demise.

First, In order for Apple to fail so badly in the tablet market, they would need to stop innovating completely. If Apple released the same iPad, with no new hardware or software features for two years, they could be overtaken in the market.

However, that’s not what Apple does. They innovate yearly on either hardware, software or both. Innovation is not just about changing the look and feel of a product, it’s about continuing to offer customers solutions to problems. Complex lifestyle problems that continue to evolve require a company that is able to predict what we will need.

Apple has a proven track record in doing this. Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads and even its many software apps are glimpses into how Apple thinks, not just with design, but also functionality.

The second thing that people count on is that Apple’s competitors will stop trying to copy Apple’s success and make a move to surpass the iPad. Recent history suggests that none of Apple’s competitors are willing to do this.

The industry right now is fighting for second place and they seem content to do that for the foreseeable future. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for them — selling millions of tablets still makes them and the shareholders are happy.

However, settling for second place doesn’t make you innovative. It doesn’t make you a company that consumers want to support. It makes you a company that understands that you don’t have the innovations and design to do it on your own.

Apple’s competitors are afraid to step too far away from the iPad because they want consumers to think of them as a competitor. If their tablet doesn’t look and feel like an iPad, they risk losing sales. That goes against their main goal of making money.

Apple’s design and functionality goals are to make the best products to help its users solve a problem. If they succeed at doing that, the money will follow. Don’t get me wrong, Apple expects its products to be big hits, as every company does, but they go about it in the right way.

The next time you see a forecast of Apple losing its dominance in a market, ask yourself what the competitors are doing to differentiate themselves from Apple. That answer is all you need to know.