When computer and smartphone makers saw the success of the iPad, they did what any self-respecting business what do: rushed to get into the fray.
But it hasn't turned out very well for the would-be competitors. Yes, iPad and Apple have their detractors but they have something else that's even more important: customers, lots of them.
Apple has sold 28.7 million iPads since the device was launched in April 2010. Analysts estimate that Apple controls at least two-thirds of the tablet market but admit the actual figure could be higher.
It's hard to get an exact comparison because competing manufacturers – Samsung, H-P, Motorola and Blackberry being the most prominent – so far haven't disclosed their sales figures, although they boast about how many units they have shipped to stores. Shipping isn't the same as selling, of course.
Amazon's Kindle isn't included in the figures because it's an e-reader, not a tablet computer. The iPad is a tablet that makes a really nifty e-reader though.
First not always best
Samsung was the first to jump into the tablet market after Apple and boasts of shipping two million Galaxy Tabs to wireless carriers and retailers. But now the company is locked in a patent dispute with Apple that threatens to shut down sales of the Galaxy in most of Europe.
Actually, for a product that has been so successful, the iPad's detractors are few and far between. In July 2010, a class action lawsuit claimed the iPad could overheat in bright sunlight. Less than a year later, a judge dismissed the suit, saying basically that the allegations were overcooked.
And while many electronic geegaws are quickly denounced by educators, there's been remarkably little grousing from teachers and parents about the iPad. In fact, mothers are positively aglow over their little darlings' quick adoption of mousing over, minimizing and so forth.
One study found that children today are likely to learn to navigate an iPad before they learn to tie their shoes.
At one point last year, Andrew Cuomo, who was then the New York Attorney General (he's now the Governor) opened an investigation into whether Apple was discriminating against Asian customers. A state legislator had complained that Apple Store clerks subjected Asian customers to questions about passports and English proficiency.
The suspicion was that Apple was trying to prevent exports of the device to China. Nothing came of the probe, though, and Cuomo has moved on to bigger headaches.
ConsumerAffairs.com is shockingly bereft of consumer complaints about the iPad. One of the few we know of occurred when your faithful reporter was seated on a Virgin America flight at Dulles awaiting departure to LAX.
A fellow passenger squeezing by in the aisle remarked to his companion, "Look at that guy. He went and wasted his money on an iPad." (I informed him it was my company's money that had been spent. Whether it was wasted or not is open to debate).
This still puts the iPad a notch above the Kindle. While seated in the same situation a year or two before, I was minimally assaulted by a fellow passenger who slapped my Kindle as she passed by, declaring it "evil." I made no rejoinder in that case, as she was quite a bit bigger than I.
And by the way, neither one is much good in bright sunlight, for what that's worth.