Think Microsoft Windows PCs vs. Apple’s Mac. Think Google’s Android OS on mobile devices vs. Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Prevailing wisdom is wrong. The world is a complex, complicated place with many playing fields and players at many levels. Here’s one that’s going where Apple fears to tread.
Yesterday I read about Acer’s new Windows tablets. These 8-inch devices (about the size of an iPad mini) run Windows 8.1 and one has a price tag just under $150.
Think about that for a moment. $150. Windows 8.1. iPad mini size. It’s easy to ask and answer the obvious question: “How can Apple possibly compete with that?”
Apple cannot compete with such devices and does not bother to try, despite the clamoring from critics and technorati elite and pundits which say Apple is doomed if it does not do this or that.
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 W (just rolls off the tongues, no?) has an 8-inch display, a lowly Intel Atom quad-core CPU, a single GB of RAM, and a modest 1,280 x 800 pixel display (about the same as a MacBook Air; compare that to an iPad mini with a 7.9-inch display, with 2,048 x 1,536 pixel display).
To help move the plastic (it’s plastic, of course), Acer includes a free year of access to Microsoft’s Office 365 Personal subscription service to run Office. Acer has a few other models, too, including one that runs Google’s Chrome that comes with better and larger display, Dolby Digital Plus sound, and even Corning Gorilla Glass– and priced at under $200.
That means Windows tablets and notebooks now compete with ultra-cheap Android tablets and Chromebooks at the low end of the spectrum. Apparently, Microsoft is content to shore up the high end with the Surface Pro 3 that competes against both the iPad Air and the MacBook Air– but only on TV commercials; not in the real world.
These crazy wars for marketshare in both notebooks and tablets remind me of the movie War Games, where the WOPR supercomputer decides not to destroy the world because there cannot be a winner (what with retaliation and the like)– pretty much like the child’s game of tic-tac-toe.
Apple doesn’t play that low end game because there are no winners.
Apple competes the way Apple has always competed– by building a better product, charging a bit more, and winning the margin and profit wars, which, ultimately, are far more important that the marketshare wars.