Pseudo-Review: Apple’s Grip On The Tablet Market As Tight As Ever Thanks To The New iPad (And Ecosystem Creation).

If you walk out on the street and ask any typical passerby what they think of when you say the word “tablet”, chances are you’ll hear “iPad”. While Apple’s original iPad that debuted back in 2010 was far from the first tablet to hit the market, it is hands down the only tablet to gain any notable following with accessory makers, developers and consumers. Where every tablet before it has failed the iPad has succeeded. And with the latest release of the third generation iPad, Apple’s grip on the tablet market is tighter than ever. But with the latest iPad release comes a brand new wave of competitors hell bent on unseating Apple from the #1 position. But first, how about actually grabbing a few percentage points.

The most imminent threat to Apple’s tablet dominance comes by way of ASUS and their Transformer Prime tablet. The tablet itself isn’t anything special; there is a quad-core processor and 1080p display as well as Android 4.x Ice Cream Sandwich and all of the awesome features it provides. But what really makes the Prime stand out is the fantastic optional laptop dock which includes a pretty decent hardware keyboard for banging out lengthier emails/text documents and built-in battery to give the Prime even longer run-time off the wall. You can even hook up a wired ethernet connection for when wireless is either non-existant or too slow to be a worthwhile option. As a “tool”, the Prime is certainly worth a look, no?

Like the Transformer Prime, Apple’s iPad has a smattering of wireless keyboards. The one that caught our eye almost immediately, however, is this. Macbook Pro look-a-like case/battery/keyboard that turns your iPad into a mini-Macbook Pro looking device. With this keyboard, your iPad is essentially a Macbook Air albeit with a couple limitations (and a few pluses). For starters it isn’t quite as powerful as your current-gen Air, nor is it going to be able to run more involved, complex OS X apps that one might consider “professional” grade. The tradeoffs are pretty note worthy, though — much longer battery life well north of 20+ hours with the keyboard battery as well as that lovely 2048 x 1536 Retina display which is easily the best looking tablet display on the market, and in this case, the best looking mini pseudo-laptop display.

Ok. So the Prime and iPad are great devices on competing platforms. What else is there? Honestly — nothing. Yet. Samsung’s various Galaxy Tabs are nice and powerful and all as are tablets from Acer, RIM, etc. The next closest “threat” we honestly see won’t be coming from the Android camp, but Microsoft’s. Windows 8 on the desktop is a pretty stark departure from their traditional desktop. But even then it’s influence on computing is minor compared to how Windows 8 will perform on tablets, and eventually as Windows Phone is built out, combine with smaller-screened phones to make a truly interconnected experience. For a company like Microsoft that has continuously failed on providing a seamless, end-to-end user experience, Windows 8 is the legitimate first time they have a shot at legitimately competing with Apple’s tried and true recipe for success.

Windows 8 and the Live Tile interface has already shown to scale well. Whether it is a 3.5″ smartphone, 8″ tablet or 27″ desktop monitor, Microsoft’s new UI works. It’s worth noting that the desktop space still has quite a few bugs as the very touch-centric Metro UI still doesn’t feel quite right — a feeling we hope Microsoft will correct by the time Windows 8 ships this fall. If Microsoft can really get the various screen sizes under control with Windows 8, I have no doubt that they can leap frog Android in terms of ecosystem completeness.

But at the end of the day, the tablet is more than the hardware (as awesome as it can be), more than the software and more than just accessories. A truly trend-setting tablet consists of near-perfect examples of all of these forming the perfect ecosystem. And that’s why Apple is still dominating. They are masters of creating ecosystems and marketing to the raw human form whereas most of Apple’s competitors are merely hardware manufacturers trying to be a software designer, a software engineer and digital content guru constantly spewing hardware specs and near-meaningless terms at your eardrums every chance they get.

I’m not saying there aren’t any other great ecosystems out there. Android has a good bun in the oven with their Android Market Google Play Store. While it has been slow going and (putting it mildly) chaotic getting to this point, they have a good spread across multiple markets including apps, books and music. Likewise, Amazon and RIM have built up rather hefty digital storefronts of their own, though, some lack more than others. Take for example, video rentals/purchases. Apple so far has one of the more complete video/TV rental/purchase stores on the market.

The third generation iPad beats the same drum as the iPad 2 and the first-gen iPad — simplicity is key. Build a device, an app and an ecosystem for the user, not the shareholder or loudest tech pundits. While the iPad has never been the fastest (hardware spec sheet) tablet on the market, that fact has never hampered sales and adoption amongst consumers. In fact, it seems that the more competitors continue to blast raw specs at consumers the more ears go deaf and move towards the iPad. Why aren’t these manufacturers waking up to what isn’t working?

Truth be told, there is the iPad in the tablet market. There’s a tablet by ASUS that’s pretty damn close in terms of versatility (though Android’s tablet app selection is still mostly a joke) and everything else. The iPad 3 will continue selling millions, dominating the minds of a large chunk of the human population and setting the foundation for the next iPad to pick up where the 3rd-gen iPad left off. If you ask us, despite the increasing competition, Apple’s grip on the tablet market, the market they essentially created in modern times, is tighter than ever.

Image Source: Cult of Mac