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I Gained Three Insights on Tablets After Shopping With My Mother

Apple Switching Costs Are Hard to Overcome

Apple took the early lead in the consumer smartphone and tablet market, and those who still have a personal use computer at home are likely to be using the Apple iOS.

Consumers who have built a portfolio of Apple products by way of MacBooks, iTunes accounts, iPhones and iPods probably would never switch. Even for tech agnostics like my mother, the fear of moving to a new content store and operating system may be too big to overcome.

But even if all iOS users remain entrenched with the operating system and don't move over to Android, Windows 8 or whatever BlackBerry 10 will be, there's reason for some tablet makers to be optimistic.

The Kindle seems to nicely blend Amazon's online retail and content expertise, while allowing prospective users to continue to be compatible with their Apple wireless devices. Meanwhile, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9's $50-a-year wireless broadband contract may be a strong alternative to tiered data plans offered by carriers like Verizon and AT&T, given the prospect of data-overage charges from a streaming video player.

Barnes & Noble's Nook may prove to have similar interoperability with more ambitious software giants like Apple and Microsoft.

While Apple certainly is facing the stiffest competition yet in competing hardware, software and content stores offered by Google, Microsoft and, to a lesser extent, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, there seems little reason for Tim Cook and Co. to sweat it out this holiday season.

My mother went into our tech-product tour wanting either an iPad or iPad Mini, and she emerged from a whirlwind presentation of alternatives still wanting an Apple tablet.

See TheStreet's review of the iPad Mini and the iPad

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York
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