Don't Believe The Hype, Tablets Aren't Going To Be This Year's Must-Have Gift

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Sorry, we were wrong. 2010 wasn’t the year of tablet like it was deemed back in January. We all had such high hopes for this year, too. We thought that every manufacturer was going to out some-sort of tablet, but that clearly didn’t happen. There are a few tablets from various manufacturers, but there are only really three tablets available now that aimed at the general consumer market: The Apple iPad, the Dell Streak, and within weeks, the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Retailers and advertisers are already gearing up for what they believe will be a feeding frenzy for these tablets this holiday season. That’s not going to happen. The tablet is not going to be this year’s netbook or Furby — unless that smaller Apple iPad rumor is true.

Right now there isn’t a reason to buy a tablet besides for shits and giggles. Even then, only the iPad does that properly. The Android offerings lack depth and are really only for business-types not wanting to carry a netbook or proper laptop.

Netbooks were an easy sell the last two holiday seasons. They were really nothing new as they were just mini laptops and relativity cheap with a price tag between $200 and $300. They were an easy alternative to the traditional and more expensive computer. Plus, their smaller size was a bit of a novelty factor. Tablets have none of that going for them. The only thing  on their side right now is massive marketing campaigns that conveniently leaves out the retail cost.

Price is the real reason why tablets will not be this year’s top-selling item. They’re just too expensive right now and in the case of the Dell Streak and Galaxy Tab, are tied to a carrier with a monthly subscription cost. That’s not going to fly with people looking to get their loved ones an easy gift.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying here. The iPad will sell like mad this Christmas, but the $500 price tag combined with the still relatively new form factor, will stop it from be this year’s Tickle Me Elmo or Nintendo Wii. Unless, of course, a smaller, cheaper iPad hits the market. A new iPad model alone — even if it isn’t really the second generation that all of us are waiting for — will still give the tablet market as a whole a bit more exposure.

Say what you will in the comments below, but only Apple has this power right now. The iPad is the only tablet most consumers know. I’ll bet my car that if you randomly pick ten of your Facebook friends to name a tablet, at least nine of them will name the iPad. 2010 isn’t the year of the tablet; it’s the year of the iPad.

Next year will be a different story though. Next year will likely be the tablet’s first proper year. The major players will finally be in the game. The HP PalmPad and BlackBerry PlayBook are set to come out early next year, and Apple will probably debut the second-generation iPad in early spring. It will take true competition and innovation to drop the tablet’s average price down to where it will finally be appeal to the average Best Buy shopper come Christmas time.

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