Even the savviest consumer may be confused when seeking a tablet. At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, several manufacturers introduced over 100 new tablets and more are coming. This popularity rides in hot pursuit of Apple’s highly successful debut and sales of the iPad in 2010. Finding the tablet you favor may be akin to finding a needle in a haystack.
A few years earlier, Microsoft created a Windows Tablet operating system but most hardware manufacturers didn’t warm up to the concept. Now they are all clamoring to produce tablets running Android and Windows tablets as they hope to be as fruitful as Apple. Several talk about beating the iPad into sauce. Android is leading that crusade.
Android is an open, public domain software that invites developers from all over the globe to contribute software. Google is a key investor in Android and is a key marketer of this operating system. Not to be undone, Microsoft is also developing Windows for new tablets.
The iPad, Android, and the new Windows share a novel approach to using software. Instead of downloading memory intensive software on discs, there are markets for software that you can easily download to a tablet, for free or a small charge. Apple’s iTunes is among the largest having garnered many participants since introducing the iPhone a couple years back. These software titles appear as icons on your desktop and behave like channels. Each of these channels is an APP, short for application. It can lead to games, books, music, videos, shopping, newspapers, and more.
Competition is so explosive. The iPad pricing runs from $500 and up. Major brands are introducing products in the $300 to $500 range. Lesser-known brands are flooding out tablets at less than $300 – many near $100. So what are the differences? It’s a heated debate.
Apple and Android – The Key Competitors
In the race for the larger chunk of the Tablet market, Android is the biggest contender against the iPad, which ranks as current champion.
The iPad uses the easy and very popular iTunes store as a resource for adding apps, which are software of all types used by phones and tablets. It is designed to be extremely friendly for use by anyone, from computer geeks to those who have never touched a computer. Apple’s track record with the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad reigns as the world champion in sales and popularity, if not necessarily innovation. The use of iTunes is exclusively in control and marketed by Apple.
Apple’s iTunes App Store offers more than 350,000 apps to consumers in 90 countries, with more than 60,000 native iPad™ apps. Customers of the more than 160 million iOS devices around the world can choose from an incredible range of apps in 20 categories, including games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel.
Android emerged as a response to Apple’s iPhone, introducing a touchscreen based operating system for phones. Android was born as a public access operating system through Linux. Google became a key player in Android’s development. The big advantage of Android is pricing. Because virtually any manufacturer can access the Android operating system, many Android tablets are available at less than $200. The number of available APPS varies from one machine to another but increases as Android offers updates of the system. Whereas iTunes is a download system controlled exclusively by Apple, downloading under Android might use any variety of sites that might vary with ease of use.
Microsoft has been witnessing the battle between Android and Apple. It also is joining the battle with new versions of Tablet-friendly Windows Mobile.
Blackberry has also added their version, based on their QNX system, designed for the Blackberry Playbook. It differs a little from other systems as it is targeted toward business users.
Marketability and customer friendliness merge to see whether all of these systems remain or whether one kills all the others. Affordable pricing and innovation-driven competition among many manufacturers may eventually bring Android to the top. Expect lots of struggle among Apple, Android, and Microsoft to see who will dominate this product category.
There is a problem with Android. Although a majority of the tablets being released are Android, the majority of those do not have direct access to the Google Android marketplace. That is especially involved in the under $300 price point. While Google’s marketplace is a substantial competitor to iTunes, Google is only permitting those manufacturers that offer Android access on their phones to offer that access on their tablets. Those sell for $300 and more, some skirting in the $500 range.
At that price point, the question is whether you want to spend $500 on an Android tablet or for an iPad, considering comparable easy use.
Stay tuned for more tablet talk with Dr. Iz — more posts soon!