iPad Competitors: Reality Check!

Enough with the stories of how this tablet or that tablet is going to be competing with the iPad or how TabletX might be an iPad killer because it supports Flash and the iPad doesn’t!  Does anybody really believe that the same companies that have been trying to sell people on the idea of a tablet form device for the past 10 to 12 years without success have just magically got it right?!  Come on!

With all the interest around the iPad, every other computer manufacturer and their dogs (yes, the dogs too) are jumping back on the tablet form factor.  Great! Tablets and touch interface are the future!  Great that they want in. Glad to have them aboard, or at least will be when they finally get any idea of what they are supposed to be doing.

Most manufacturers seem as lost as lost as some of the tech bloggers that are writing such wonderful pieces about these tablets.  Here are two sentences that I read just this morning:

“…the HP Slate is being touted as the main iPad killer. And why not? After all, it runs Desktop OS and can browse Flash websites, something which iPad will never be able to do. “

What is it with these people?  Tablet PCs have always been a dead end because they run a Desktop OS, which isn’t suitable to the form factor!  Then there is the Flash bit… People are turning away from Flash because the iPad and the iPhone and the iPod don’t support it, not the other way around. How many people you’ve seen throwing away their iPhones recently because it doesn’t support Flash? (See NPR.org, WSJ.com and just yesterday the TED talks became available Flash-free.)

Until computer manufacturers realize that the software for their tablets or iPad-wanna-bes can’t come from Microsoft if they realistically want to have a chance of providing a good user experience, they are just wasting effort.  Oh, I’m sure Asus will sell a lot of Tablets as will other companies, perhaps even HP.  But the fact is that they will provide a disappointing experience when compared to an iPad.  What this means is that they might sell to people who can’t afford an iPad (if they are selling cheaper) and they might sell to all those that whine about missing cameras and Flash, but they are not going to threaten the iPad.

In order for the end user to have a good experience with a tablet device that uses finger-based touch input, the interface of  all the applications and of the operating system need to be designed for this kind of input, not something grafted on a 15 or 20 year old desktop interface.  Have you ever used a Windows XP netbook?  Is it a fantastic experience?  Its passable when you need to be able to do something on the go and you don’t want to carry the weight of a full notebook.  Now, does anyone believe that dropping the keyboard and replacing Windows XP with Windows 7 will magically turn netbooks into a great experience?  Are you prepared to wait a couple of minutes while your Windows 7 based tablet boots up, so that you can check a phone number or check for an important email?

As it stands right now, the iPad is poised to do to tablets what the iPod did to MP3 players.  Are there non-Apple MP3 players still for sale?  Yes, of course.  Are there any really significant ones that are challenging the iPod’s dominance in that market?  Not really.

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4 Responses to “ “iPad Competitors: Reality Check!”

  1. . I found it ironic that most people would be
    buying pc’s for the software;
    I was sure that software was one area
    where the mac was better
    (safer and more open if not more versatile)
    . the main reason I was still using windows in 2005
    was exactly because mac software wouldn’t work with
    the hardware I wanted!
    they didn’t have any laptop with a touch screen,
    so I had to buy a pc tablet .
    (the touch screen was essential at the time;
    though later I would grow to appreciate a trackpad;
    so my next touch device will likely be a macbook .)

  2. buster says:

    So, you are saying that every tablet that is now released is released because of the iPad? Apple is the big innovator here?
    That’s so ridiculous. It takes more than 2 month to build a tablet. There have been tablets before. Combining the technology of today is not the genius innovation you think, it happens everywhere.

    Second, you are living in this strange alternative world, it makes me sad.
    Of course there will be people not buying the iPad because it can’t do flash. If you don’t think so you are just ignorant to reality.
    About the Desktop OS: There is actually no reason to built a good Tablet with a multitouch friendly Desktop OS on top of it.

    It’s ridiculous. You are just repeating what Apple likes you to think. Can’t people take an objective view on things?
    Just because Steve Jobs says that Flash is bad and that you shall no t have a real OS, doesn’t make it true!

    People won’t throw away their iPhone. But in a not so distant future every major OS for smartphones will support Flash, except for the iPhone. Adobe will have nice tools to build platform independent apps from one source. So, eventually developers will start to make those apps for the majority of phones, not for the rather small market share Apple has. And (hopefully) people won’t be the next iPhone but the next non-Apple phone, as Steve fucks the customers on a daily basis and every apple customer is just begging for more.

    Of course Apple doesn’t want Flash:
    – They don’t let app competition on their major platform, the want the money for themselves. That the customers lose choice is well accepted by most apple customers.
    – Of course they don’t want the real Mac OS X on the device. The iPhone OS is so tightly integrated with the appstore that literally everything you want to do, you will have to buy from the appstore.

  3. Mauricio Longo says:

    You could be a bit more civil in your comment and you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    I never said that Apple had pure or angelical motives for not wanting Flash, I just pointed out that many sites are stripping out Flash, because Apple doesn’t support it, which is quite true. There are several references in this blog to sites that have started or completed projects to remove the need for Flash.

    I’m sorry that I’ve upset you. I’m sure that if you wait long enough a tablet that meets your standards, from a company that doesn’t have any kind of monopoly market position such as Microsoft or Google will come along and that it will be all that you dream of.

  4. Daniel K. Attling says:

    The Desktop metafor does not work very well for tablets and most previous attempts at mainstreaming tablets have been overpriced and underperforming. Apple are brilliant at spin and is infusing the format with a whole lot of its famed glamour. Glamour that will drive users and developers to it and make for interesting reconsiderations on how interaction can/could/should be done. Flash or not won’t matter, it is a single feature that has had its value immensely inflated.

    In the end I’ll get an Android tablet, as it will be what I want it to be instead of what Cupertino decides I can have.


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