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Apple iPad Will Fail, Says Dell Exec

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WISHFUL SINKING
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We can excuse tech criticism when it's justified. Scratching at the ankles of industry leaders is a given, especially when their path to the top was laid upon misbegotten means. After all, the web is buoyed by a sea of message boards and comment sections choked with angry missives railed against inadequate bestsellers.

And to some, that includes the iPad.

Feverish sales and glowing reviews don't mean a thing to critics who fail to appreciate the tablet's function or simplicity. Yes, there are limits to the iPad's capacity, and some of it can be attributed to Apple's stringent control, as well as the very form factor that makes it a tablet. But to claim that the iPad has no future in the tablet industry and is doomed to fail, well, you better have the numbers to back up your charge.

And it doesn't appear that Dell's Andy Lark does.

Lark, Dell's global head of marketing, recently told CIO Australia that he doubts iPad's future with enterprise customers, claiming the device is simply priced too high.

"Apple is great if you've got a lot of money and live on an island. It's not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex." Adding, "[Apple has] done a really nice job, they've got a great product, but the challenge they've got is that already Android is outpacing them."

Yes, Android has eclipsed Apple in one area: smartphones. But as for tablets, that's an entirely different story.

The Motorola Xoom -- the highest profile Android tablet to date to take on the iPad -- had the momentum and the marketing to have a sizable start, but not enough to maintain it. Ultimately, the high cost and reportedly buggy software prevented it from taking much of a chunk out of iPad's market share.

But in a niche market like tablet computers, Apple owns that industry for the moment -- lock, stock, and barrel. Its smartphone throne may have been usurped, but like the MP3 player market, Apple will hold a healthy lead in tablet computers for the foreseeable future.

Lark -- whose company is teaming up with Android and Windows Phone 7 for upcoming tablets -- backs up his pessimistic view of the iPad with some dubious numbers.

"An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you'll be at $1500 or $1600; that's double of what you're paying. That's not feasible," he said.

Speaking of unfeasible, Andy...

Mashable's Stan Schroeder breaks down the mysterious figures Lark mentioned and can't come close to the $1,500 figure.

"The cheapest iPad 2 model costs $499. A dock is $29, and a wireless keyboard is $69. Case options abound and range between $20 and $100, with Apple's Smart Cover starting at $39. The iPad doesn't natively support a mouse (you can use a hack on a jailbroken iPad to use a Bluetooth mouse with a device, though), but even if it did, you can get a decent wireless mouse for $20."

Schroeder concludes, "Add all that up, and you're nowhere near Lark's figures, even if you go with the most expensive iPad model which costs $829."

Yes, Apple's products do fall on the pricier side. But a high ticket cost hasn't stopped the iPad freight train, and it doesn't appear it will any time soon. Until Android delivers a killer tablet for a phenomenally affordable price, the iPad will dominate its market.

And until then, Lark should ease off the outrageous claims if Dell's best hope at competition can't outdo the Motorola Xoom -- an admittedly overpriced device.

(See also: iPad or iFad? Why Tablets Will Remain a Niche Product, Did Motorola Price Its Xoom Tablet Out of the Market? and Infographic: Apple's iPad 2 Compared to Motorola Xoom and HP TouchPad)

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