Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Did Pricing Fail Toshiba or Did Toshiba Fail the Public?

Right now it seems like every manufacturer on the planet is churning out a tablet PC to compete with the iPad. All those new tablets are sleek, stylish and generally considered quite popular with most consumers – especially when they are in the realm of affordability.

Yet, there is one company that is already finding itself in the dog house with customers over an inferior piece of tech. Now, there are a lot of problem tablets out there, many of them derided for being cheap and cashing in on the tablet craze. But, for the most part, those poorly made tablets are inexpensive – they are bad because they are cheaply made.

However, Toshiba’s Folio 100 has no such excuses. The device, which retails for €399 for most models (and as much as €529 for 3G models) and was released in Europe just two weeks ago, has already been pulled from at least one major retailer’s shelves (PC World). 

At first, there was some speculation that price might be an issue. After all, screenshots had surfaced of the Folio 100 with a £999.99 price tag. That was an internal blunder by the retailer, but the device itself had enough problems to push a removal anyways.

What Went Wrong?

So, what went wrong with the Toshiba tablet and how could a company always at the forefront of mobile technology and tablets in particular make such a pronounced blunder? To start with, they rushed a product to market.

In their hurry to compete with Apple and other upstarts like Samsung, Toshiba created a product with inferior integration of Android, a mushy LCD with poor viewing angles and low pixel density, and a plastic case. The device simply doesn’t feel or look like the highly touted, sleekly designed tablets that have been making other companies so successful.

Since the Folio doesn’t have access to the Android Marketplace yet (a big sticking point for many rushed Android tablets) and because the built-in Toshiba Market Place app is so buggy, expansion of basic usability on the tablet is very limited – making it even harder to recommend the device.

This is a problem I think we’re going to see a lot more of. There are hundreds of companies out there frantically rushing to get a device on the market – not wanting to fall behind a burgeoning industry that will revolutionize computing like nothing since the laptop was developed. And because there are other devices already providing optimal user experience, companies that rush something out of the factory will not be rewarded, especially if the price is so high that it doesn’t allow them to forgive technical flaws.

Toshiba probably learned a valuable lesson here, one that cost them dearly. One hopes their next attempt at a tablet does more to highlight their long history of quality and durability in their devices, and that other companies currently rushing their own offerings out the door will learn as well – not all tablets will be successful. 

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