There’s no getting around the fact that 2011 will be a big year for tablets. From iPad to Galaxy Tab to various other Android-powered tablets, the coming year will bring much in the way of super-portable, casual computing devices that blur the lines between “mobile” and “laptop.” In addition to the still market-leading iOS and emerging Android, we expect to see devices running other platforms as well.
So, we thought we’d list all the tablet platforms you’re likely to see next year. If you’re in the market for a tablet, you’ll have to pick and choose with care. Here are all of the contenders:
Apple’s mobile operating system doesn’t just make all the finger-friendly “magic” happen on the iPhone and iPod Touch, it’s also the platform of choice for the iPad. Apple’s iPad is currently the dominant player in the tablet market and will most likely keep the top spot in 2011. Among the reasons more people are embracing it is a growing number of applications, media love and an awesome yet “standard for Apple” design. On the downside, some folks may not like just how closed Apple’s platform is.
iOS’ dominance will definitely be challenged by quite a few Android-powered tablets we expect to see being launched during the year. Notably, Samsung is slowly getting traction with its Galaxy Tab product. Which leads us to…
In addition to Samsung, we look forward to seeing more tablets running Google’s platform. Motorola, LG, Dell and HTC are all on the list of manufacturers who will be relying on the Android mobile operating system to turn their tablets into iPad killers. The launch of Android 3.0 Honeycumb will bring an improved interface that is optimized for tablet devices, while requiring no physical buttons (though supporting them).
Google is loved by developers and with quite a few Android-powered tablets hitting the market, we’ve no doubts a ton of tablet-specific apps will be launched during the upcoming year.
Android is definitely on the list of long-term winners in the tablet space.
The first fruits of collaboration between Nokia and Intel will most likely be unveiled at the upcoming CES and/or Mobile World Congress. If I were at Nokia I would shoot for CES to present the first MeeGo-powered tablet/phone to the American public. Then at the Mobile World Congress I would unveil additional products, smartphones included.
Maemo, which is the predecessor of MeeGo, was embraced by the hacking community and something tells us the same folks will dig the evolution of the platform. As for the mass market adoption, Nokia and Intel will need to really impress the whole ecosystem, media included, to entice developers to port their apps to the new platform.
We’ve been hearing rumors about webOS-powered tablet for quite some time now. Hopefully CES will show us what HP and Palm are capable of accomplishing. The webOS core is definitely solid and developers love the platform. Now it’s up to HP to further enhance the user experience, bring some serious hardware on board (something better than the Pre 2) and launch excellent developer tools. We love webOS and are looking forward to see it evolving.
The only downside of webOS I see is the fact that it faces super-tough competition. We’ll see whether HP can charm the world as Apple did.
There’s no chance Microsoft will leave tablets to other companies. However, pushing the “regular” desktop version of Windows 7 to tablets may not prove a winning solution. Some kind of Windows Tablet (a la Windows Phone 7) would work better for the Redmond-based software giant. I’m speculating at this stage, but that sounds like something that could fly.
Microsoft is known for its excellent developer tools, but as you know they’ve already failed in the tablet space — anyone remember Project Origami? Exactly. If we look at their Windows Phone 7 efforts, it seems this time they know what they’re doing. In the world where there were no for Apple and Google, all my money would be on Microsoft. With those two on the market, the battle for the tablet user will be more interesting, driving device prices down.
BlackBerry Tablet OS
BlackBerry fans are eagerly expecting to get their hands on the PlayBook. RIM definitely did its homework developing the new platform and acquiring companies all around its eco-system to offer a compelling user experience. That is, if performance and quality issues don’t delay the tablet into irrelevance.
However, I’m not sure whether the same tactic that worked for BlackBerry phones will also work for tablets. Tablets can definitely improve productivity of today’s mobile worker but they are not phones, hence putting emphasis on an enterprise user may prove as a flop. To be fair, the new Tablet OS is powered by solid QNX base, offering enhanced security and that’s something business users crave.
And that wraps it up. I’m curious to read what do you think – which of the platforms will succeed and which won’t? Don’t hesitate to share your two cents via a comments form below.