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Hoping iPad 2 Won’t Be Boring

I’m hoping that iPad 2’s retail debut tomorrow doesn’t become boring.

Oh, there will be the usual videos of consumers online buying the first one at Apple Stores, Best Buy, Walmart and other outlets. And there has been the usual amount of media bluster in reviews about its improvements over the original iPad or potential competitors.

What I’d like to see, just as an observer of the marketplace and not a participant, is some real competition for market share in the tablet market.

Maybe reviewers, who have given iPad 2 glowing marks for its features, sense that this may not be a complete cakewalk for Apple and have been more understated in praise of the new product.

Sure, there are still comments like this one in its summary of reviews Huffington Post: “It’s slimmer, it’s lighter, it’s faster, it’s packing two cameras and a few new features — all for the same price as the original.”

But the undercurrent is that even though iPad 2 starts at $499 — the same price as the original due to Apple’s considerable clout to cut deals with suppliers — tablets that are either out or about to debut different or better features that can take market share.

As Apple, and all of its competitors, help create a brand-new product category, iPad’s share will go down. I refer you to today’s IDC report that said in the fourth quarter Apple’s share went down 20 percent to 73 percent. (My italics by the way.). Click here for our report on the details as to why, but IDC said that Apple’s leading market share will range between 70 to 80 percent this year.

That estimate is a lot lower that the industry’s conventional wisdom since CES in January — an unrealistic 90 percent share.

But a little competition in this important and up and coming market, will be good news for everyone.  – consumers, competitors, distributors and heck, even retailers.

I keep on thinking about what Home Entertainment Source’s Jim Ristow said at the BrandSource meeting last month that tablets, like iPad, “provide solutions for all of your customers” creating a whole new digital entertainment ecosystem that independent retailers can tap into.

As tablets become a full-fledged category, they will not only succeed at Apple, AT&T and Verizon stores and online, but at regional and independent CE dealers nationwide with a choice of packages, features and brands.

Apple has the cool factor and iPad 2 will maintain its market share lead. But as Apple, and its competitors, promote tablets there will hopefully be plenty of market share left for new brands to make money in the category — as well as retailers, distributors and accessory makers.

That would make iPad 2’s rollout exciting for everyone.