Tablet Trifurcation

on March 28, 2013
Reading Time: 1 minute

images-46Yesterday, Tech.pinions columnist, Patrick Moorhead, discussed the implications of the growing popularity of the 7 inch tablet form factor.

Schism

I think that Patrick’s analysis of the schism between Apple’s iOS tablets and Android tablets was spot on. While Apple encouraged their developers to create apps that were optimized for the larger 10 inch tablet form factor, Android eschewed optimization and encouraged a one-size-fits-all approach. The resulting “stretched” Android phone apps worked poorly on the larger tablet form factor. However, “stretched” phone apps seem to work well, or at least adequately, on the slightly smaller 7 inch screens.

This divide in approach between iOS and Android tablets has at least two major implications. First, Apple’s iOS tablets will most likely continue to dominate the 10 inch tablet form factor. In fact, Android has all but ceded the 10 inch form factor to Apple.

Second, because both Apple’s 10 inch iPad and their 7.9 inch iPad Mini run optimized tablet apps, the iPad will most likely become the “go to” tablet for high end users. This means that professionals, businesses, government entities and educators will gravitate towards the iPad. And as the virtuous cycle of developer/app/consumer continues the spiral upwards, the high-end iOS applications will make iOS optimized tablets even more appealing to high-end consumers and even less approachable to Apple’s competitors.

Trifurcation

It seems to me that the tablet market is trifurcating. Apple’s iOS is taking the larger 10 inch form factor and the up-scale markets. Google’s Android may command market share in the mid-level markets. And forked or non-Google Android tablets will take the low end of the market. All can survive, but only Apple has proven that it can profitably thrive in such a setting.