1 July 2011
Tablet Wars 2011: The Best for Many is Yet to Come
Something New, Something Borrowed, Something to Prevent those Techno Blues
I and many others heard with some surprize early in 2010 that this year 2011 and 2012 was likely to be the Year of the Tablet PC, it truly is.
The fight for market share is mainly focused around the suppliers of the operating systems Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
What size- Still being debated, some have offered a 7”, an 8.8” and a 10.1”, it is believed the 10.1 will win the market share but that is not a given.
The overall tablet go to market strategy – Apple makes their own hardware and Operating System, this makes making selling their product different than Google and Microsoft that make their own Operating System but partner with manufacturers to make, market and distribute the tablet hardware. These manufactures include Samsung, Motorola, Acer, Asus, Nokia, Sony, Amazon and others all with some or no allegiance to one operating system or another. All 3 have an application and music marketplace where they strive to sell additional services to their customers.
It starts with the iPad1 – Apple launched the iPad1 in April 2010, and some thought it was a joke, others something magical, but few expected to be a game changer in the computer usage scheme of things. Not quite a computer, not quite a laptop, more than a toy, it has been to many a new ‘appliance’ or ‘gadget’ that offers a different way to make use of new technology. When the iPad1 was launched, immediately Apple had the monopoly on the marketplace and it has really taken till mid 2011 for the first real competitors to start to emerge, but there is more to come.
The War of the Tablets is Likely to come down to 1 of 4 different tablets that many consumers have not even seen yet.
The Operating System Contenders – Apple, Google, and Microsoft-
(I am ignoring the others that will likely not make a dent in the big 3) with Apple iOS5 vs. Google Android IceCream 4.0 vs. Microsoft Windows8
Apple is updating their 5 year old Operating System to capture some of the features of Android and is not to be ignored. Microsoft is going further and launching a new operating system that is the same for phones, tablets and desktop computers (windows8). Google is following a similar route with Android IceCream that will offer a singer OS for phones and Tablets. Apple will release theirs first, then Google, then Microsoft, though all have shown key elements recently.
Apple– As a result of Apple only allowing their iOS to be on their own iPad, their offering is the iPad2 or possibly the iPad3,
Microsoft – It is too early to predict what their hardware offering will be for next year’s operating system but their first rumoured windows 8 phone will be with the Nokia N9 or equivalent so it is not be far-fetched to see a tablet model of it in 2012 as well. At CES 2011 many interesting designs have appeared including those from ASUS, Samsung, and Lenovo as well. Also netbooks have already appeared offering dual booting of Android and Windows, so expect to see an IceCream and Window’s 8 dual boot tablet on 2012.
Currently with the time advantage of a brand new Operating System in Honeycomb has seen a flood of new tablets landing in 2011, from Google partners varying from good to indifferent with more to come.
Challenger 1 – Google / Samsung – The Samsung 10.1 P7500 Series Tablet – Offering a bigger, thinner, lighter, version of the iPad2 it uses the Android 3.1 Honeycomb Operating System and has recently gone on sale in the US only. It offers some more flexibility than the iPad, being able to add and remove programs more easily, but with a little less refinement than the iPad mostly new to the operating system only being weeks old. Not yet for sale outside the USA. Note: In March 2011 Samsung has sold another 10.1 tablet called the 10.1V that is thicker and heavier than the iPad2 and the new 10.1, but a beautiful unit all the same. It is currently out of production and has NOT been sold inside the USA, due to the launch of the thinner 10.1 in June 2011. Samsung is likely to announce the 10.1 to be sold in August globally.
Challenger 2 – Google / Motorola – The Xoom – Offers a similar to iPad model in size but heavier, it has a very high build quality with all the other benefits of the Google Android Operating System
Challenger 3 – Google / Amazon – Predicted by many to be the must have tablet in 2011/2012, Amazon is likely due to the timing of new computer ships, to be able to offer a quad core tablet to the market place in August 2011. With their success of the kindle e-book reader, and already with a cloud service, music store, and app store, they are a very large power house for the market share due to their customer base and distribution, though it is slightly lacking outside the USA
Challenger 4- Google / Sony – Sony announced in April 2011, it was launching 2 new tablets with one of these being a 10.1” that folds in half offering a dual screen model. However, it is not known if recent security problems in other parts of Sony will delay the launch of these products or not. Using the latest in streaming technology Sony will be focusing this device as a game system as well as a tablet and movie streaming device using the DLNA standard, and selling music, movies and games via their own market place.
Challenger 5 – Microsoft
It is possible Microsoft may choose to launch their own branded tablet in 2012 as a hardware benchmark as well as using their partners, similar to an Apple/Google model combined. It is believed Acer and Microsoft had words recently over Microsoft trying to actually limiting the number of chips that manufactures to purchase for using windows 8, a sign of it wanting to make sure there was enough market supply for them first.
The Reigning Champion – Apple iPad2
As the ruling king, they are the ones to beat. Can Apple compete for hardware and software supremacy? It is not impossible to imagine their reign staying in place.
Conclusions – With Google having momentum on their side and a brand new operating system in Android Honeycomb and IceCream, and a slew of new hardware partners especially with the sexy Samsung 10.1 it is likely they will win the race in the short term.
Apple’s likely adoption of if it ‘ain’t broke don’t go radical on’ , will be the challenge for them and iOS5, but is looking very good for the iPad2 and its successor the iPad3 that is not expected to be radically different.
Microsoft knows that to date the tablet form factor has been viewed mainly as a consumption device and less of a production device to do real work on largely due to the limiting operating system. As a result Microsoft is well placed to change all of that with Windows8 but only if they are able to produce or partner with sexy hardware that rival s the Samsung 10.1 and the iPad2 or iPad3. Partner Acer has already launched dual Android / Windows7 Netbooks, if this transfers to the tablet marketplace as market trends indicates, then both Google and Microsoft could be the winners.