For today Apple owns the tablet computing market, but a menacing horse is actively stalking the category with a product that won’t appear until later this year.
The stalking horse approaching Apple at a full gallop is Google and its Android 3.0 operating system.
At CES earlier this month you couldn’t escape tablet computer announcements, most of which were running on top of prerelease versions of Android 3.0.
The runaway winning hardware product announcement at CES was Motorola’s Xoom which on spec sheet claims alone—appears to set the bar for competition against Apple’s iPad. It’s based on a dual core processor and supports displays with resolutions as great as 1.280 by 800 pixels, In theory, the Xoom has the capability to earn fame as a top-flight media machine and Motorola is not a newcomer to consumer electronics, as evidenced by its recent Android-powered smart phone launches.
Apple has a well deserved reputation as a hard charging sprinter It also has an enviable handicap of being able to rely on grandstand sized crowds of brand loyal buyers. But, the sheer size of the projected tablet computer market ( predicted by some of the more reliable analyst firms to be in the scores of millions of units) can work against Apple because of some of its “Here’s What We KnowYou Need” industrial design and other traditions.
Google, on the other hand, is in the tablet computing market as an operating system vendor and is hardware agnostic. Furthermore, Google’s Android team is headed by one of the most experienced smart phone designers, Andy Rubin, a former Apple manager.
Although Google hasn’t faired well in consumer-related plays, its strategy to capture market using a platform play gives it a huge backfield to overtake and leave Apple and its iPad mired in the mud.
And Google’s Android has the legs to open daylight between its licensees and Apple.
Although the starters are faunching at their bits in the tablet PC starting gate, the bell won’t sound for several months, by which time Apple could be ready place its second generation thoroughbred iPad in this huge claiming race.
I’m not about to place the proceeds of a home equity loan on the results of a race between an Apple thoroughbred and a field of mudders, but I’m looking forward to the derby.—Jim Forbes on 01/20/2011/