One of the trends we’re betting on here at Fruhla is that tablet prices will drop hard and fast allowing for dedicated tablets in the home. This means that instead of one $600 iPad you all have to share and pull up and down off the wall, you have at least one other tablet mounted on a wall in the kitchen, or hallway or other location for dedicated usage for a smaller set of context appropriate apps. (e.g. a recipe or grocery app in the kitchen, etc.) which is much more practical than carrying your phone around in the house or clearing the space (and budget) for a 20" all-in-one touchscreen PC mounted in those same spaces.
Gartner sees the average selling price (ASP) of a tablet going from $543 in 2010 to $263 by 2015. I think it’s going to drop further and faster. Here’s why:
First, that prediction doesn’t even come close to keeping pace with Moore’s Law which roughly says you can put twice as much computing power in the same space every two years, but most folks think about the other resultant equation which is, if you hold the computing power/space constant, the manufacturing costs for an identical device should fall by half.
So we can have more power and smaller for the same price, or same power and form factors for half. In the case of tablets, do we need smaller? Maybe for detachable/embedded usage in consumer appliances, manufacturing and the Enterprise, but probably not for consumer handheld or dedicated usage. (It’s pretty much just a big smartphone when you get down around a 4.5" screen, right?)
In fact the iPad 2 is already so slim that a further size reduction would probably make it less ergonomic to carry and use. I love the ingenuity of the Smart Cover, but it keeps the overall thickness so small that my hand actually cramps trying to carry it around securely without dropping it.
So do we need more power? Tabets can already do most things a high-end media pc can do, such as play 1080p video, run graphics intensive games, etc. Dedicated uses in both enterprise and the home won’t need more than this to connect and consume media or view HTML5 enterprise apps.
As far as storage, one of the factors that seems to be missed in the forecasts I’ve seen is that cloud services allow you to order a *cheap* tablet so you can stream your media and download only the docs you need. All you need is to be able to render graphics, a capable browser, Wi-Fi and capacitive multi-touch touchscreen. (Many of the already sub $275 Android tablets like the Creative ZiiO have resistive touch which requires contact with a stylus or your fingernail and is less natural to interact with and difficult to use multi-touch gestures)
And I think other consumers are reaching the same conclusion and comfort level with the cloud. One of the things that was not taken into consideration in the ASP iPad2 forecasts by Piper Jaffray is that at launch of iPad2, the baseline model 16gb+wifi ran out first. –So people bought the 32GB model or higher model they didn’t want, making the ASP less useful for predicting the pricing and demand of a cloud only tablet.
If you are a consumer who wasn’t already on board with the cloud, your consumer confidence got a big boost this week when a trusted brand like Amazon announced theirCloud Drive and Player.
And as a last data point, Costco already has a 7" WiFi Android tablet from Velocity Micro at $199. It’s resistive touch and doesn’t run Bananas-Foster or whatever the latest version of Android OS is called, but it’s sitting right next to a $589 Motorola Xoom. Which price point do you think the Costco customer will go for?
Time to get back to work designing apps for those Dedicated Tablets. They’re going to be here under $200 by 2013 at the latest.