The tablet war is getting hotter

Amazon, Google and Microsoft are ramping up production to challenge Apple, and shoppers will soon see a wide array of devices across a range of prices.

By Kim Peterson Jun 29, 2012 4:30PM
Google (GOOG) stormed into the low-priced tablet market this week with the introduction of the Nexus 7, a $199 device shipping in mid-July.

The 7-inch tablet poses little threat to Apple's (AAPL) dominant iPad, analysts say. Instead, it competes directly with Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire and a host of other Android-based tablets. Google's got a pretty slick device in the Nexus 7, setting up the scene for a fierce battle in the $200-$250 range in the next few years.

But Apple isn't exactly floating above the fray here. Yes, the other players are fiercely battling in the lower price range, but it's just a matter of time before they go head to head with the 9.7-inch iPad.

Amazon may be the first contender. The company is getting ready to launch a 10-inch tablet, BGR reports. Amazon is also developing a new version of the Fire. Digitimes is reporting the same thing, saying that the new 7.85-inch Kindle Fire is expected to release in August for $199.

The new versions come as enthusiasm for the Fire seems to be waning. Some observers think Amazon only shipped 750,000 units of the Fire in the first quarter, Digitimes notes. The IDC research firm thinks Amazon's tablet market share dropped to 4% in that quarter.

Microsoft (MSFT) is a new entrant into the field with Surface, a 10.6-inch tablet that won a lot of attention during its reveal earlier this month, particularly for its cool magnetic cover that also doubles as a keyboard. There's no word on price or availability, however, but most expect a release won't happen until next year. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

Everyone in the industry is focused on Apple's next move. Could the company debut its own 7-inch tablet, perhaps called the iPad Mini, that would cost more than rival versions? People would certainly buy it, even at a higher price point.

Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt recently asked consumers what 7-inch tablet they would buy: a $300 iPad, a $200 Android tablet or a $200 Kindle tablet from Amazon. The iPad won the most votes, getting 26%. About 8.5% said they preferred the Android, and 8% wanted a Kindle. The rest said they only wanted a 10-inch tablet or they didn't want one at all, according to Forbes.

At any rate, it's clear that by the time December rolls around, shoppers will have a number of capable tablet devices across the range of capabilities and prices.

More from MSN Money

Jun 29, 2012 10:17PM
Kind of sucks when the only reply on here is SPAM.
Jul 2, 2012 9:14AM

What about the Samsung Galaxy 10.1, direct enough competition to the iPad that Apple successfully obtained an injunction against Samsung, forcing them to stop selling the device while the two companies wage their patent war in court? How do you mention Google and Amazon but not Samsung (or Asus, or as poster said earlier, BB)?


I am left wondering just how much research you actually did before you produced this piece of work. It had a lot of promise based on the title, but as far as information goes, it was a complete waste of time.

Jul 2, 2012 1:18PM
Ten of the 23 comments here are spam!  I always click the spam button, but it never does any good.  What the heck is wrong with you MSN?????  Are you "in" on these sites?  I've come to the conclusion that must be the case.  If not, how expensive would it to be to hire a moderator?  Are you that cheap?
Jul 2, 2012 10:22AM
Does  Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt actually think a 7" iPad would only cost $300?  
Jul 1, 2012 10:45PM
Big Lots has been selling a Polaroid tablet running Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for $99...last year CVS was selling Sylvania tablets with Android 2.2 at the same price.  I know they're cheap, but that tells you how much those tablets went down in price.
Jun 30, 2012 3:19PM
funny story didn't talk other 10" inch tablet.  I thought the galaxy is not bad.
Jul 2, 2012 2:36PM
There are plenty of people who want alternatives. A 7" screen is ideal for portability. I have a 7" tablet and couldn't imagine carrying anything bigger. Its easier to hold and type at the same time, i can throw it in my bag and bring it everywhere with me.
Jul 2, 2012 8:20AM
And the BB Playbook which was the first 7 inch tablet and the best of all isn't mentioned. Kim, who are you trying to promote with this story? 
Jul 2, 2012 12:39PM
You said over half of the people don't even care if there is a 7-inch tablet.  That basically means that half the people reading this article won't care either... A better article would by, "Why do half of the people not care about a 7-inch tablet... yet companies still make them?"
Jun 30, 2012 3:45AM

Apple probably goes offensive with the launch of 7" Mini tablet soon. If it priced $249, it may kill most competitors with price at $199. So the rest of competitors have no choice but to price even lower.

Sounds logical? 

Jul 2, 2012 5:26PM
Jul 2, 2012 9:20AM
I'm really interested in the Nexus 7 tablet, but my only issue with it is the size. I was hoping for a full 10 inch tablet, as I feel the 7 inch is only a few inches larger than my Galaxy Nexus. I'm not sure if it's worth it to buy a 7 inch tablet for a while extra 2.7 inches of screen size.
Jul 2, 2012 7:18PM
There is no way Apple would put out a 7 inch tablet for only $300. Apple isn't known for offering products at competitive prices.
Jul 2, 2012 6:25PM
Ok, what does the Ipad do that the kindle doesn't do? I'm not making a challenge. I have three Kindle's and they already do more than I care about , but I got them free.
Jul 2, 2012 7:43PM
Jul 2, 2012 12:49PM
Apple will continue to dominate the market because most apps are iPad and phone exsclusive.  Nobody wants a device that they have to wait for a particular app to become available if at all.  Not to mention apple devices just do more.  

Microsoft has the best shot but the price of their device will be biggest factor.  ATM it looks like it is going to e priced to high but who knows.
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