Now that the iPad has made the world safe for tablets, it would appear the tablet invasion is beginning in earnest. Google is reportedly working with Verizon and HTC on an iPad competitor and LG is preparing to release an Android tablet in Q4 this year, the same time frame as the rumored Verizon-sponsored Android tablet.
There are a few other low-end Android tablet or tablet prototypes floating around already but none of them are competitive with the iPad. In addition HP (in early 2011) and RIM are going to be launching tablets.
RIM is working on new software that the company hopes will differentiate its anticipated “BlackPad” from the iPad. RIM also wants to make its tablet a better “content creation” device than the iPad. That’s similarly LG’s strategy according to the company’s marketing VP Chang Ma:
Mr. Ma said that the iPad is a great device, but he doesn’t do much work on it. “Our tablet will be better than the iPad.”
The tablet will include content focused on creation such as writing documents, editing video and creating programs. It will also have “high-end features and new benefits,” many of which will focus on productivity, Mr. Ma said.
One interesting unknown involves the operating system of the rumored Google-HTC-Verizon tablet. AOL content site Download Squad first reported that the Verizon tablet would be out on November 26 and based on ChromeOS and not Android. However, eWeek disputes that there will be a Chrome tablet out by “Black Friday” this year:
Indeed, a source familiar with Google’s plans said there is no Chrome OS tablet planned for that date, pointing to the false rumor that Asus would show off Chrome OS devices at Computex in June.
Earlier this year Google said that Chrome-based netbooks would be out from several hardware OEMs by holiday 2010. Since that time the iPad has changed the dynamics of the PC market. I don’t know, as a technical matter, whether any of the Android apps would be compatible with ChromeOS; however I assume they would be or could be made compatible.
As a side note, Google TV is based on Android and not Chrome; so the former would appear to have the upper hand in the Chrome vs. Android debate. Regardless, apps will likely be an important part of any competitive tablet offering. But we’ll have to see.
If someone could build a tablet that could truly replace the laptop, as LG suggests it will, that would really be useful. Yet prior efforts to offer “tablet PCs” based on a true PC operating system (Windows) have not worked.
Price is another factor and competitive variable in this new segment. The iPad starts at $500. So cheaper, “good enough” Android tablets will be competitive with the iPad and likely see adoption. Meanwhile there are rumors that Apple is readying a 7-inch version of the iPad.
However, until these devices materialize and we get to use them, it’s hard to see the claims coming from Apple’s competitors, such as LG, as much more than just tablet “trash talk.”