Competition Heating Up in the Tablet Market
What a busy few weeks for major announcements in the tablet market. First Google announced Honeycomb, the latest version of its OS for mobile devices. Honeycomb is specifically designed to run on the larger tablet-sized screens adding a new level of support for multi-tasking, more elegant notifications, better home screen customization with a new 3D experience, and redesigned widgets. The OS also delivers big changes for the web browser, including tabbed browsing, auto-fill forms, bookmark synching with Google Chrome, and incognito mode for private browsing. The launch of Honeycomb makes the huge influx of Android-based tablets even more competitive against the iPad by adding the last layer of support and the necessary refinements to the OS to make it work well on tablets.
Just this morning, Google announced at the World Mobile Congress in Spain, that Android 2.4 will combine both Gingerbread and Honeycomb into a single OS. This simplifies things for users and makes for a more harmonious experience for Android users across their phones and tablets.
Google also launched the Android Market, a centralized web hub for accessing apps. In the past, Android users could only access the App Market through their device and some carriers even opted to link users to a proprietary store with their own selection of apps, which made distribution of Android apps across carriers complicated for developers and publishers. With the Android Market website, users can easily browse and share apps and can even push apps out to their device remotely.
And finally this week, there were two big announcements for content publishers. Since the launch of the iPad, the lack of a viable subscription-based content delivery model has been problematic for magazine publishers. This single factor has been the biggest deterrent for adoption of tablets for digital magazines. Both Apple and Google came out this week with a solution for this. Apple rolled out its much anticipated subscription model on Tuesday, with a few surprises. Publishers anticipated that Apple would apply its standard 30 percent cut to all subscriptions sold and would retain subscriber data. However, in the official announcement, Apple surprised many by stating that it would not take any cut for subscriptions driven by the publisher. If apple brings the subscriber to the table, then they get their standard cut, but if the publisher delivers the reader, there is no fee. On the same note, Apple also agreed to put in an option that would allow the subscriber to decide whether their data is passed along to the publisher. These are two signs that Apple has decided to play nice with publishers. Perhaps they got wind of Google’s planned announcement for today and decided to extend the olive branch to publishers.
Google followed up Apple’s big announcement yesterday with the launch of One Pass, a content purchase platform that enables publishers to charge for content on a website, a smart phone or a tablet. Publishers keep 90 percent of the revenue, as compared to the 70 percent they get through the Apple App Store.
All in all, we can say that competition in the tablet market just got serious and the real winners here are the consumers and the publishers as there are several viable options for the delivery of content to mobile consumers, both free and now paid.