Gee -- why wait for all of those reputable market research analysts and investment banks to make their calls on who won the tablet derby this cluttered holiday gift-giving season? Just count the tweets.
That is what Twitter user and social media maven A.X. Ian did on Christmas Eve. He did a rough survey of the insta-blog by checking out those who posted their “first tweet from” iPad, Kindle, Nexus or Microsoft Surface. Guess which one won in a total landslide?
The iPad garnered 1795 tweets, coming in at seven times the number who boasted of their Amazon Kindle (250 tweets) and far, far ahead of the Google Nexus (100 tweets) and the trailing Microsoft Surface (36 tweets).
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So this is about as scientific a sample as Norad’s Santa tracker, or Dick Morris’ election projections. But it will be fun to see how much the first burst of celebratory tablet tweets reflects actual buying patterns.
There are big hopes being pinned on the iPad Mini this year. Asian supply chain news source Digittimes reported this week that the Mini is defying the usual expectations for a post-holiday slump in hardware sales. They claim that panel suppliers for the device are seeing orders climb for Q1 2013 instead of ease back.
The presumption is that Apple is seeing continued demand even after the gift-giving season. Financially, the prospect of iPad Minis cannibalizing the more expensive iPad market is not necessarily good for Apple, which sees higher margins on the bigger tablets.
Even more interesting will be the results for overall sales of 7- to-8-inch tablets. My guess is that the Mini helped raise all boats somewhat in that it helped turn consumers’ eyes toward the smaller tablets and their viability as media consumption devices.
Whatever Apple’s continuing prestige appeal and lead-in app environment, the company left a few doors wide open to competitors. The price differential of $329 for the Mini compared to $199 for base Nexus and Kindle models is enormous for many gifters. And the underwhelming display resolution on the Mini makes it stick out like a low-res thumb compared to the rest of the Apple line and some rivals.
Personally, I think that in making these design and pricing choices, Apple declared that it didn’t need to buy the entire tablet market in order to dominate it for some time to come. If the Mini had come in even at $250 I suspect Apple could have bought the market lock stock and barrel this holiday. But its margins would have been razor thin and its future pricing expectations could be depressed for what may become the leader in its gadget line. This holiday, Apple seems to have retained market dominance while preserving price, margins and some hint of premium status.