Why Android tablets are better than the iPad for business

By | November 10, 2011

When it comes to the tablet market, the iPad is the undisputed king. Even with increasing competition Apple has held onto its dominant market share, around 66 percent at last update. Yet popularity does not equal utility. There are many factors to consider when purchasing a tablet, and even more when the tablet has a business purpose. For many reasons, the iPad might not be the right choice for a small business user. Instead, there are many reasons to choose Android.

Price

When it comes to pricing, Apple dictates everything. They sell each tier of the iPad for a set price, and it’s pretty much at the top of the tablet industry for each model. While the iPad does provide some serious power to back its price tag, not everyone needs that kind of power.

The lack of a less powerful model means there are likely better fits, at better price points, on the Android platform. There’s the Asus Eee Pad, for example. It’s not only seven inches, but plugs into a dock to create a netbook-like device. That might be a better fit, at a better price, for someone than the iPad.

Size

Just as the iPad’s price is immutable, so is its size. There’s only that one big model, and while that does have a number of advantages, particularly when dealing with multimedia, it does have its disadvantages. As Will wrote in a previous guest post, the iPad’s size makes it less of a friendly travel companion. That’s just one disadvantage of the 9-inch size.

Android users have a choice between a larger tablet that’s closer to the iPad’s size, or a 7-inch tablet that works better for travel. In fact, 7-inch tablets are simply more versatile devices in general. They’re easy to transport — the BlackBerry PlayBook fits in many coat and even jeans pockets — and they can snap into some daily organizers. They might not provide the best multimedia experience, but for business users that’s usually not the first concern.

Customization

Apple is notoriously controlling of how people can experience their mobile devices. Only approved apps can get installed, and all sorts of different file types are excluded from the platform. There are usually alternatives, but many of those alternatives cost money. Even at a nominal price, why would someone want to pay for something they’re used to getting for free?

Android is an open source platform, and therefore is much more open with customization possibilities. There all sorts of apps that can help you create a custom layout that makes life easy. You can add a bottom dock, create time-saving widgets, and even install apps not approved in the Android Market. That is, you can turn an Android tablet into the device you imagine, while the iPad has already been imagined or you.

Software costs

There’s a simple rule in marketing: don’t just sell something, but sell something that requires, or at least suggests, that people buy things to go with it. The iPad is a perfect example of this. Once you buy the device you’ll want to fill it up with apps. Most of the best apps in the App Store cost at least a couple of dollars. While that might not seem like much, especially compared to the device cost, it does add up over time.

On Android, a far larger portion of apps are available for free. Many of these apps come with free and premium tiers, but the free versions typically provide enough functionality for the casual user. As long as you don’t mind an advertisement or two popping up, and usually in a non-intrusive manner, you can get plenty of free value out of the Android Market. Again, who wants to pay for something they can get for free?

In a word: Versatility

All of the above elements come together to create a more versatile tablet. There’s versatility in choice and in implementation. The iPad might not be for everyone, but there’s an Android tablet for anyone. There are hundreds of business uses for a tablet, and those uses are only going to increase with Android’s in-flux platform. While the iPad might win the popularity contest, it’s Android that wins in utility.

Joe Pawlikowski is the editor of AndGeeks, a site that uncovers the hidden gems of the Android world. Instead of the iPad, Joe got the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.