Jeremy Toeman suggests one cannot beat Apple’s iPad by building an iPad clone. And, generally speaking, that’s probably a fair observation. Yet you can still grab market share and generate revenue, especially if manage to undercut the competition on price. Unfortunately, the once pricey Apple is now affordable thanks to a shift in revenue model — not only do they sell razors (iOS devices), they’re also offering razor blades (apps) these days to the tune of 30% commission. But what really caught my eye in Jeremy’s article was his pre-announcement stanza:
There is almost no upside to announcing products that are not complete. All you wind up doing is telegraphing your punches and revealing your plans to the industry at large. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, these other companies have announced their unreleased tablets prior to the iPad 2 shipping. Has no one read The Art of War? “The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known.”
For smaller companies, there’s rarely a compelling reason to pre-announce. In fact, there’s several good reasons to avoid it. The little guys get far fewer shots at press coverage and if folks can’t buy when they’ve got our attention, well… they may have lost their one opportunity. However, for larger companies like Motorola (Android Xoom), RIM (Blackberry PlayBook), and HP (webOS TouchPad) I see a few reasons to pre-announce… even though it’s somewhat maddening as a blogger and a consumer.
1) HP, RIMM, MMI are publicly traded companies. They’re communicating to their investors that they intend to be players in this new tablet arena.
2) As Apple has shown, rich third party software offerings are critical to success in the mobile space. By pre-announcing, HP, RIM, and Moto hope to excite potential partner developers and provide them time to prepare apps that line up with the ultimate product launch.
3) Lastly, these companies are also speaking to us, the potential customers: “Save your pennies.” Very few will buy multiple tablet products this year, so they hope to encourage us to hold out until release.