Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Tablet A Day?

It may be starting to rain tablets as manufactures line up to take on Apple and its iPad. The game may be more about getting to market quickly than getting all the bells and whistles into the devices. The Android platform has clearly shown that Apple is not without strong competitors and its adoption onto the tablet market may be interesting to watch. So who is bring what to the tablet wars?

Google / Verizon
The week that Google pulled out of direct retailing its Nesus One and admitted that others can do it better is one aspect to consider. The other is that Google let HTC design its Nexus One and anyone with a HTC Android will tell you it’s a HTC phone.
However Google has some great things to build into the tablet; email, search, maps, office and an apps store and well as a cloud approach and that is without YouTube, Google Editions etc.

Acer is rumoured to be almost ready to launch and they have the channel distribution and technology competency to make a good splash. There are questions as to whether they will use Google’s Android or Chrome platforms but you can see a trend developing in the Google versus Apple wars.

RIM Blackberry
We like the name BlackPad or BlackSlate and it certainly would be interesting to see RIM move up to compete outside their comfort zone. They did make the transition from email to smartphone and from keypad to touch but this will seriously take them into the PC world and it will be very interesting to watch whether their corporate base continues to remain loyal or as some have already started ditches them for generic safety. It is rumoured that the tablet will not be 3G network connected and will be a 8.9” screen and will not be on the market till the end of the year.

Dell appear to have interestingly chosen to take on the iPad in Europe first with their 5 inch Mini 5 tablet running on Android. The real question is whether a 5” screen is big enough to differentiate it from a phone and to compete with the larger screens. Dell again has marketing clout and and a very strong distribution and sales operation.It will be interesting if they also can apply some of their good design concepts to the Mini 5.

HP announce their intentions early and also announced their changes early too! It is unclear what operating system they intend to use but they surely can’t afford to be late to the party and will certainly throw money at their sales and marketing operation.

Micro-Star International is launching a tablet powered by the powerful Nvidia Tegra chip. It appears they are caught between operating systems and have both an 8.9” and 10” models and the user can then chose between Android and Windows 7. We would suggest that if they can’t make up their minds its not always wise to leave it to the consumer. It also demonstrates that Microsoft is loosing the plot.

Apparently it is reported in The Telegraph that BT has announced it will be releasing a touchscreen tablet PC that can apparently make and receive phone calls via built in speaker/ microphone or bluetooth. What operating system it will be based on is unclear but the logical move to integrate telephony makes sense and will wake others up to what their offers should be. It doesn’t make any sense to have to pay twice for the internet service as in the Apple model and either loose tethering could have strong financial appeal. However BT is not strong in this market and although it does have distribution and channels its brand is somewhat unaligned.

The tablet, which will be launched later this year, will be offered as part of a BT package and targeted at the family and home users market. This narrow perspective could make it an also ran before it even gets to market.


Industry analysts Gartner and IDC are now making a distinction between tablet PCs and tablet Pad devices The tablet PC use an x86-based processor and a full operating system, such as Windows, whilst the tablet Pad devices use ARM-based cell-phone and smart-phone chips and mobile operating systems such as Android, Web OS or the iPhone’s OS. This is a significant step change in the market and starts to confirm that Microsoft is on the decline and seriously threatened as computing starts to converge on the mobile.

IDC project that 6 million tablet devices will ship this year and that 4 million will be iPads. Interestingly they also see HP as the main threat to Apple. Our money would be on sitting tight and waiting till its time to do the Christmas shopping when things may be a bit clearer!

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