iPad's 'Design Efficiencies' Make It Tough For Other Tablets to Compete

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. MacRumors, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2011

    MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple's control over the iPad's hardware and software gives it "design efficiencies" other tablet manufacturers can't match, says Wayne Lam, an analyst at iSuppli.

    Lam argues that comparing the amount of RAM between the iPad and other manufacturers misses a key point: because Apple writes the software specifically for hardware they have custom built, it doesn't need as much horsepower as competing tablets.
    It also helps that Apple has the cash to secure favorable terms from suppliers, like in 2010 when it spent $3.9 billion on LCD panels, most likely for the iPad.

    Apple currently has the second highest market capitalization in the world, second only to ExxonMobil. Like XOM, Apple has grown its profits by controlling the entire pipeline, from conception to delivery.

    ExxonMobil handles exploration, drilling, pumping, refining, and delivery of petroleum products, and captures profits at every step. ExxonMobil eliminates inefficiencies in the market by having one company handle everything instead of having four different companies combining forces to deliver a product -- like Google and the Android hardware manufacturers do.

    Apple designs the software (iOS), the hardware (A4 and A5 chips), controls the sales channel (Apple Retail and Online Stores), and decides the fate of how buyers use the iPad via the App Store. The company streamlines pricing and the experience to such a degree that no other company can even come close.

    Article Link: iPad's 'Design Efficiencies' Make It Tough For Other Tablets to Compete
  2. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    But but but but but I thought people liked when their computing experience was wild wild west-esque and no one called the shots for the sake of the greater good (the user).

    Is that not the case?
  3. xraydoc macrumors 604


    Oct 9, 2005
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    Just like the Mac since forever.
  4. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    The iPad competitors are way behind the iPad and they know this which is why the trump features that are really superfluous to what consumers need.

    i.e the Playbook bragging about Flash technology. Wow...how cutting edge

    Or the other tablet makers waxing on about USB ports, HDMI ports and other portage. Wow ..so it's a Netbook missing a keyboard.

    If you're a company that thinks you're going to be Apple with a reference design hardware running run of the mill ARM chips and the same Android OS that your competitors offer then talking about USB or HDMI ports and how many megagigapixel your camera offers is about all you can do.
  5. Dr Kevorkian94 macrumors 68020

    Jun 9, 2009
    SI, NY
    this is there argument (maybe not an argument but its a big point) for every apple product, oh and don't forget they look good too!
  6. gnagy macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2009
    Not quite. This was the key sentence from the article "Apple designs the software (iOS), the hardware (A4 and A5 chips), controls the sales channel (Apple Retail and Online Stores), and decides the fate of how buyers use the iPad via the App Store."

    The macs use the sandy bridge chipset with intel CPUs, seagate hard drives,..etc. On the inside, it's not much different from a Dell.

    Also, you can install and buy software for the mac outside of the App Store.

    So it's definitely not like the mac. It's a lot more integrated and controlled, and maybe that's adding to why nobody can compete with it.
  7. Btrthnezr3 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 5, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8G4 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Two points here:
    1) the iPad and other iOS devices are benefiting from the same system macs have been living in for years. "Yeah, my iMac doesn't have blah blah like your pc but it doesnt need it because it's tailor made to run OSX."

    2) Controlling all aspects of design, manufacture and distribution is called vertical integration. My History kids learn about it every year. It works because it is so simple. It makes everything more simple and you reduce costs and problems at every level. Walmart does a lot of this too. When you can secure the cash, vertical integration is kind of a duh no brainer.
  8. LastLine, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011

    LastLine macrumors 65816

    Aug 24, 2005
    False. If 'Design Efficiencies' made it tough for others to compete we'd have Windows sitting on around a 5% market share, not OS X. Sad, but true.

    The iPad is winning because it's got solid software, a huge app base, and more importantly - is an excellent product in an emerging market.

    DOn't get me wrong, Design efficiencies don't hurt, but it's not everything.
  9. TheOrioles33 macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2008
    You hit the nail on the head my friend!
  10. res1233 macrumors 65816


    Dec 8, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Yep. It's very difficult for non-vertically integrated manufacturers of tablets to advertise the advantages of buying their specific tablet, because all the tablets are running Android, so from their point of view, the only thing they have to differentiate their product is specs, something that the average Joe is not going to care about, nor understand. Apple can advertise the entire experience to differentiate itself.

    Edit: Keep an eye on WebOS/HP though. They may be Apple's one true competitor in the tablet market.
  11. Diode macrumors 68020


    Apr 15, 2004
    Washington DC
  12. NAG macrumors 68030


    Aug 6, 2003
    You're conflating vertical integration and monopolies. They are, in fact, separate things. You can have a monopoly in either vertical or horizontal markets (e.g. Apple is vertically integrated but lacks a monopoly in the iPhone market and Microsoft is horizontal and was found to have committed monopolization in the computer market).
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Younger readers may not know that in the past ALL computer companies were like Apple. If you bought an IBM mainframe you bought it from an IBM sales rep and ran an IBM operating system and IBM software and IBM techs installed the serviced the machine. Same exact thing if you bought a CDC computer or one from DEC or any of a dozen other companies. All of the computer companies up until the 1970's were vertically integrated, just like Apple is. Today I think there is only a few of these. Apple is one. Oracle (With their SPARC/Solaris based servers and workstations) is arguably another. IBM has gone back to the vertical model after selling off their PC business.

    IBM is an old company. They built mechanical "computers" in the early 1900's. Later they added vacuum tube and transistor based equipment and then integrated circuits or "chips" were invented. At one time IBM was the world's largest chip maker and they never sold chips, they were their own customer. This is how the industry was until about 1980.

    It seems that maybe we will see more of this because controlling the entire device from the chips to the apps that run on them does offer an advantage.
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    No, you missed one very important way to have your product stand out: "Price". This is the one thing all consumers do understand. If has been the biggest problem for PC manufactures for many years, that buyers care mostly about price and everything thing else is just "technical geek-speak" So PCs are designed to be cheap first and something else second.

    This is a HUGE problem for non-Apple tablet makers. Apple can cut ccosts by using their "design efficienies" but everyone else has to run their margins down to near zero as that is the only price they can control. It's the same in the PC industry.
  15. 2 Replies macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2010
    There IS a flip-side to this...

    The down-side to Apple's tight "design efficiencies" is that it leaves little flexibility "wiggle-room" for iOS developers to innovate. :rolleyes:

    And Apple is VERY MUCH aware of this. It's VERY MUCH intentional.
    It's the main reason they are so iron-fisted with the apps they allow in their walled-garden.
    It's also why they don't allow non-apple compiled code to be submitted to the app store, or apps that execute non-native code (eg Java & Flash).
  16. *LTD* macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009
    Vertical business model. When it's done right, it is unbeatable. Apple does it right.

    Thread title is too limited. It should read:

    Apple's control over their products gives it "design efficiencies" competitors can't match.

    Apple hardware + Apple software. Let's call a spade a spade and give credit to the totality of their platform.
  17. Yamcha macrumors 68000

    Mar 6, 2008
    This is very true, thats probably one of the great things about iOS, it doesn't require the monster amount of ram in order to function without lag.. Other comptitors of the iPad these days all pretty much have 1GB of memory, and even then the performance on some tablets are poor, likely due to software issues..

    I think the other tablets that perform about the same as iPad are playbook, and the touchpad...
  18. darbus69 macrumors regular


    Mar 3, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    so, tell us "fanboys" something new?
  19. slrandall macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2011
    I'm sure that every skilled iOS developer would disagree with you. Language constraints are merely another of Apple's efficiencies. But with any language, all room for innovation rests with the developer's creativity.
  20. applefan289 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2010
  21. NAG macrumors 68030


    Aug 6, 2003
    Personally, I mostly liked how his "post" had lots of "vague references" to provide him plenty of "wiggle room" if he was ever replied to.
  22. Mak47 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 27, 2011
    Harrisburg, PA
    You're absolutely right, it's completely intentional. The main reason for such tight control is that Apple understands the idiosyncrasies of the average consumer.

    The average consumer doesn't care about code, tech specs or anything else that goes on under the hood of the device. They just want it to work--all the time. If an app is written poorly, or in a format that doesn't play well with the OS or the hardware, the consumer doesn't blame the app developer, they blame the device. If an app causes major battery drain, they don't delete it and move on with life, they assume that Apple is just lying about battery life and may choose a different device the next time.

    If the ecosystem is so clogged with varying code languages and unpredictably performing apps that it becomes overly complex to use, consumers don't blame themselves for not understanding how it all works. They blame the device and assume it is broken.

    The endless accusation that Apple only does things the way it does to ensure that consumers have to buy from them is getting tired. To date, Apple has paid out just over $2 Billion to iOS developers. That means Apple has made just under $1 Billion in App Store revenue. (they keep 30%) When you factor in the cost of labor to keep it all running, the cost of hardware, maintenance, real estate to house it all etc...That $1 Billion is pretty much wiped out. It would certainly be easier for them to just let an open source App Store open up and walk away from it.

    But that doesn't happen, because if it did, the end user experience would be crap and iOS devices wouldn't have the reputation for quality that they currently enjoy.
  23. MacAddict1978 macrumors 65816

    Jun 21, 2006
    Every one else having Android doesn't mean they can't market their tablet better. The iPad commercials show how it can be used, work in your life, your families life, etc. Samsung could just as easily make a commercial doing the same thing, or any other tablet maker. This was the Xooms nail in the coffin. They had a clever launch ad campaign, but.... well, you never saw the Xoom do anything in the commercial except make stick people.

    WebOS had the most potential... but this botched launch is a critical blow to HP. (Palm already screwed it up once with bad hardware, and HP does it again with bad hardware and unforgivable bugs and performance issues that got them spanked in every review around the world). No one is buying their tablet, several carries are rumored to have turned down the Pre-3, their echo system isn't seeing developers flock to it (actually some are leaving it), and most people don't care. Their only hope is to get a better device in the marketplace in the next 6 months, and to pray that integrated WedOS in HP pc's stirs more interest, because outside of tech nerds like us, crickets are all that can be heard in the world in regards to WebOS.
  24. Superken7 macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2011

    This is seriously uninformed.

    First of all, vertical integration is not everything.
    But furthermore, it takes significantly less time to adapt an OS which you have full control on (Android) than to write & maintain one, especially these times where mobile technology moves forward at such a fast pace. Not that this is not taking a black box and installing it onto your device. Android is open source and you can adapt it to your hardware all you want. Also, it just so happens that it runs just fine on existing mobile platforms, because it was designed that way. But you can still adapt it and make it "more efficient".

    Also, that stuff they wrote about the RAM is just laughable. It has NOTHING to do with vertical integration. As the article describes, it has more to do with how the OS manages multitasking. Apple chose not to offer multitasking to devs, and thats why it requires less RAM. This allows for less cost.
    Anyone could write an OS based on Android that is not Android that does this exactly the same way as iOS, and this would be MUCH MUCH easier to do than writing and maintaining their own OS.

    One could argue that Android is usually more laggy than iOS, which is mostly true. But again, this has NOTHING to do with the "Apple controls hardware to software" thing. It is just a design choice for how you handle running code on different computer architectures. This problem is not only there on Android, every platform will be run on different architectures, and stuff will need to be recompiled or virtualized.

    I'll tell you the REAL reason why comparing RAM between iOS and, for example, Android devices needs to be taken with a grain of salt:
    Other that the fact that each handle multitasking differently (mostly, iOS doesn't offer an API for the devs to launch background processes), one does virtualization, which requires a lot more memory (and BTW, that is the cause that Android is usually sluggish, it uses a Garbage Collector which interrupts the UI thread and causes lots of frame drops). Plus, Android allows background services and stuff like that to be launched and drain your battery. But even then, you can see how Android devices have more RAM and usually need to "reload" far less. If you measure available RAM on either system, you will see how iOS usually has far less available memory than an Android device.
    Depending on which Android device you use, you will se how some take ages to multitask compared to an iPhone, others will just instantly switch tasks (a Nexus comes to my mind), mostly even faster than on iOS, because all apps are still in memory - having 256MB free RAM leaves a lot for browser tabs and open apps.

    Also, note how Apple is the largest phone manufacturer, they only produce one phone and put significantly more resources into it than anyone else. THAT is different to how others do it. Look at motorola or samsung, they do lots of different phones. If they just did one high-end phone, maybe they could handle every little detail and efficiency like Apple does with the iPhone. HTC can't usually use super expensive parts like the iPhone's touchscreen because they are not going to produce that many parts since they have lots of phones in the market.

    To each his own strategy, but please leave this whole "apple designs HW and software, and therefore its better" argument alone, I think that is mostly exaggerated. My macbook pro is running on hw that is not that different from others' hw, its the software which has been very carefully designed which makes the difference. Others could do it just as well, but they don't. They do it their way, which works out quite well for many people, I should add.
  25. pyro008 macrumors 6502

    May 23, 2011
    1) First to market. (Well first one to convince people they actually need a tablet)
    2) Price competitive with competition.

    The two reasons the iPad and iPhone are so wildly successful while Macs are falling flat on their faces. Mostly the second.

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