The release of the iPad 2 brings with it some lofty claims by Apple about what it can accomplish, and other tablet makers have been quick to point out its inadequacies, but they’ve primarily focused on hardware shortcomings. Unfortunately for these other manufacturers, they’re fighting a battle that really doesn’t even exist in the minds of consumers.
Look at how Apple positions its products: pure experience, with promise of creation, exploration, and connection with the people and things we care about. That is what resonates with consumers. My mom isn’t interested in the fact that the iPad has a dual-core processor, or that the Xoom has a better camera on the back. She cares about seeing her grandkids, and FaceTime makes that happen. Software enables her to experience what she wants with the device. The fact that the camera is only VGA means absolutely nothing to her.
This is where other companies fall down. They can’t compete in the software choices. They build to impress a group of people (spec nerds) who represent a shrinking market, and a market whose clout over the direction the consumer tech industry takes has all but vanished. Apple builds for everyone. It’s the reason hardcore geeks get bent out of shape when they can’t do exactly what they want with Apple hardware, but it’s not for them. It’s for everyone else, and everyone else is who’s spending the lion’s share of the money and filling Apple’s coffers with reasons to continue along this path. Computers have been too hard to use for too many people for too long and Apple’s stance is that it’s time for a change.
The spec battle is long since over. Companies who insist on continuing it instead of creating compelling software experiences do so at their own peril. It’s too bad, because more interesting software makes the market better for all of us.