Some recent thoughts on tablets:

  • I took a look at the new Kobo Vox which is the Canadian competitor to the Kindle Fire & etc – i.e., $200 color Android tablet, to be used as an eReader and being promoted heavily by a book store. It is not that amazing. It feels (weight, thickness) like my cheap (and useless now) tablet from China. They did a trick however, to make it seem less thick – by slanting the sides. I read a couple of anecdotes about it, and perhaps it is confirmation bias, but it seems to be pretty sluggish. I think the big knock against it (for me) is when you pick it up, you don’t think Wow, this is cool, I’d like to have one!. Maybe this is because I’m familiar with the industry, or maybe because the product just isn’t a “wow”.
  • For the same $200, you can now (this week) get a 16GB Blackberry Playbook. The 16GB Wifi PB started at $499 and has been dropping steadily in the past year. First it was cheap through employee and other F&F-type sales, but now it’s available to the general public at this price. Is it a fire sale? I don’t know, but discounting a supposedly highly-anticipated tech product by more than 50% in the first year cannot be a good sign.
  • This sudden dip in price and availability of the PB has kicked off a frenzy. Earlier this week, the group thought was that the sale would only be at Walmart, so hoarders started buying 3 or 4 PBs at their $499 price and waiting for price protection (because inevitably, it will sell out at the $200 price point). From RFD, it seems like they were pretty successful in causing a run on Walmart’s PBs so that most places are OOS. I wonder if managers at Walmart were clued into why they were suddenly selling out of the PBs? If they ordered even more stock, then they might not be making a lot of money on these sales.
  • Now, it turns out that all the retailers (i.e., FS, Staples, etc) are selling PBs at the $200 price point (at least for this week). If they didn’t match the move, they would have found themselves selling a lot of PBs at $200 – 10% x ($500-$200) = $170 instead!