The problem with developing for tablets other than iPad

Since the launch of iPad one and half years ago, a lot of competing tablets have arrived in market. BB Playbook, Samsung Galaxy Tab, HP TouchPad, Motorola XOOM and several other Android tablets. While Android phones has surpassed iPhone’s growth in terms of volume, I am afraid, it can not happen same with Android tablets.

iPad is a category into itself. People don’t want a tablet but they want an iPad. That was not the case with phones. People wanted a smartphone and iPhone was either too expensive or wasn’t available with their carrier.

The biggest problem other tablets are facing that they don’t have a strong identity of their own. The marketing folks for these tablets have no clue on how to pitch their new tablet to consumers against iPad. All they can say is it runs Flash and iPad doesn’t, and that’s it. But who cares about Flash? Average consumer doesn’t even know what Flash is.

These competing tablets aren’t really bad. They have good hardware and a good software, too. But the problem is, they don’t have apps. And I don’t see for a number of reasons its going to change soon.

Being a mobile app developer for several platforms, I know the pains of developing for a new category of device or a new platform. There have to be huge incentives for a mobile app developer if he is developing for a new device or platform. These new tablets are not selling well. Most app developers are either one man shop or very small companies. They often do not have enough bandwidth to go after a new platform/device.

So it becomes a chicken and egg problem. Developers won’t write app until a huge number of consumers adopt the new device and consumers won’t adopt it until the device has enough quality apps.

Developing for iPhone is still the most profitable business for most developers. Android and Blackberry might be the next profitable platforms followed by WP7.  So unless you are a big company like EA or Disney, most developers are not bothered to write apps for these new devices. And I don’t see its going to change soon.

So most tablets will have to wait a couple of years until the volumes build  and developers start noticing and justify porting of their apps. I am not sure how this will affect the tablet makers. They would not be profitable for quite a long time which would limit their ability to invest more money into business. This would result in their engineering departments under funded and eventually their inability to compete with iPad.

Would the competing tablets eventually die?

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