iPad 2 vs Competition: Specs Don’t Matter to Shoppers

iPad 2The iPad 2 has a faster processor and some other internal upgrades. But most people who will buy an iPad 2 or any other tablet in 2011 simply don’t care about specs. The user experience is far more important than GHz and GB and it’s silly to focus too much on specs when comparing tablet platforms.

Let’s consider the four predominant tablets of 2011, at least those that have been announced thus far. The Apple iPad 2, Motorola Xoom, HP TouchPad and RIM BlackBerry PlayBook are the most talked about tablets in 2011 thus far. I already own the original iPad and Motorola Xoom and have played with the BlackBerry PlayBook quite a bit. The HP TouchPad is the only one out of the lot that I haven’t had a chance to use yet. They are all good devices, but what differentiates them are their unique user experiences. Not specs.

Engadget put together a nice table that compares each of these tablets, which I’ve pasted below. Right up top on line one is the most important ‘spec’ of them all, the OS. Those interested in an Android 3.0 experience aren’t going to shift their attention from a Xoom to the iPad 2 because it has more storage. If benchmarks prove that the iPad 2 is faster than the PlayBook, corporate types aren’t going to scuttle their plans to buy truckloads of the BlackBerry-compatible Playbook tablet.

iPad 2




Platform iOS 4.3 Android 3.0 webOS 3.0 BB Tablet OS (QNX)
Display 9.7-inch
LED-backlit IPS LCD
10.1-inch 9.7-inch 7-inch LCD
Resolution 1024 x 768 1280 x 800 1024 x 768 1024 x 600
Processor 1GHz dual-core
Apple A5
1GHz dual-core
NVIDIA Tegra 2
1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz dual-core
Memory ? 1GB RAM 1GB RAM 1GB RAM
Storage 16GB / 32GB / 64GB 32GB 16GB / 32GB 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
Front camera VGA 2 megapixel 1.3 megapixel 3 megapixel
Rear camera 720 / 30p video 5 megapixel AF with dual-LED flash,
720 / 30p video
none 5 megapixel,
720p video
Cellular radio Quadband HSPA or
3G with free upgrade to 4G LTE 3G and 4G 3G and 4G
WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR 2.1 + EDR 2.1 + EDR 2.1 + EDR
Accelerometer 3-axis 3-axis Yes Yes
Gyroscope Yes Yes Yes
Battery 25Wh 6,500mAh 6,300 mAh 5,300 mAh
Thickness 8.8mm 12.7mm 13.7mm 10mm
Weight 601g (WiFi),
607g (Verizon),
613g (AT&T)
725g 740g 425g

Those who point to one spec (except the OS) or another as to why one of the above tablets is better than the other are missing the challenges of the tablet wars completely.

The other key component in the battle over tablet market share is price. As of today, Apple offers something nobody else does – a tablet that costs $499. The Motorola Xoom is $599 with a two-year contract or $799 without. Some Android fanboys argue that $599 is actually a better deal than the iPad since the Xoom comes with 32GB of storage capacity by default, while the iPad only comes with 16GB. But if you look at the total cost of ownership, the iPad is still the price leader.


One of the most important components of the iPad’s price, even with the 3G option, is that the iPad 2 can be an impulse buy. You can be in and out of an Apple store in minutes. You can even pick up an iPad 2 with 3G and activate 3G whenever you’d like. With the Motorola Xoom you need to sign up for an expensive two-year contract and wait while Verizon runs a credit check. There will be a WiFi-only version of the PlayBook and Xoom down the road, but retailers will have much less incentive to sell it compared to a device that requires a profitable two-year contract.

Over 15 million people are using the original iPad models. I’m willing to bet that far fewer than a million of them can rattle off more than a couple of lines from the iPad’s spec sheet.

Specs matter to geeks and marketers. Specs don’t matter to shoppers.