Tablet Competition Notes

Some more random notes post iPad 2 launch about the tablet opponents.

Samsung is already publicly admitting that the new iPad 2‘s form factor is a major surprise for their upcoming 10.1 inch version of the Samsung Tab. The new Tab is going to be as thick and as heavy as the original iPad. In addition, Apple staying with a $499 price with upgraded internals seems to have caught Samsung flat footed. Samsung cannot delay putting the 10.1 Tab out there. The Xoom is already launched and really there’s no compelling reason to purchase one Android device over the other right now. So Samsung has no real time to rework the device. The only real option available to Samsung is to undercut the iPad 2 and the Xoom in price. What price point do they need to hit? $499 for a 32 GB  WiFi only device with equal performance to the iPad 2/Xoom, and hope that Apple doesn’t have some iOS 5 magic for the iPad ready for release this summer.

– Moto Xoom. MoD is yet to be convinced that carrier subsidies are going to be the primary sales channel for these devices, customers don’t necessarily want another data plan from their cell phone company. MoD is waiting for some actual battery/speed tests of the Xoom using Flash extensively before “it uses Flash” becomes an actual feature advantage for any of the Android tablets. It’s also unclear from a useability perspective how well the 16:9 aspect of the hardware is going to work. MoD uses their iPad in portrait mode a lot, and isn’t sure that the 16:9 aspect won’t hinder the portrait mode of the device.

If Bloomberg is to be believed, it’s going to be back to school shopping season 2012 before Microsoft will have a Windows 8 ready tablet. This also means that it will be fall 2012 until Nokia can effectively enter the tablet wars since they have hitched their futures to Microsoft’s mobile OS development plans. Now since no one has seen a demo of Windows 8 Tablet version, it’s fair to probably say that 2012 was the earliest most pundits were expecting the OS, but fall 2012 right now seems to be a crushing delay. How many iPads and Android tablets will be in the market by fall 2012? 60 million? 100 million? And who other Nokia is going to build them? Dell’s in the Android camp. Samsung too. HP’s going with WebOS and Microsoft will be lucky if HP hasn’t released WebOS netbooks/laptops by fall 2012 hurting the other side of Microsoft’s business. Sony’s tablet plans are unclear. Asus is hedging their bets offering Windows 7 tablets and Android devices.

The RIM Playbook appears to be in real trouble right now. For starters, it’s a 7 inch device while everyone seems to be moving to 10 inches. The Playbook could appear thick and heavy compared to its’ bigger screen competitor. In addition, just like with the Xoom every one of its’ spec advantages has disappeared with the faster multicore processor equipped iPad 2 . RIM also seems to be developing some kind of Android application environment to counter a lack of applications at launch. This Android application space idea seems to be very poorly conceived and smacks of desperation. Android devices right now have a hard enough time running all Android software let alone a different operating system running an Android shell. If RIM cannot get enough developers to natively create applications for their new QNX based environment, then the Playbook might be DOA.

– The HP TouchPad. HP had to be somewhat annoyed about the changes to the iPad’s form factor. The iPad now has a decisive edge in being lighter and thinner. In addition, the guts upgrade to the iPad 2 removes most of the specs edges that HP Touchpad did have. HP though seems to be the only vendor copying the iPad aspect size. The Web OS could really be amazing on this tablet form factor, so it has an edge that none of the Android developers can copy (while RIM is desperately trying to copy the WebOS). Application wise is where HP is hurting. The almost 18 month hibernation that WebOS has taken since Palm got sold has destroyed the WebOS application community. How quick HP can restart that community with a lukewarm lineup of smartphones is unclear. The last area of concern is that the device is 3 to 4 months away. It will be facing a very crowded lineup of non iPad tablets. Apple’s biggest advantages in selling iPads are their stores and their stores inside Best Buy. The iPad never has to worry about other devices stealing their prime retail space.

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