I have lost count of how many hypothetical devices have been hailed as iPad killers over the past several months. After the iPad’s huge sales success many of the companies planning to release tablet devices took a step back to reevaluate their possibilities. Many decided that the products they were planning to bring to the market weren’t up to competing with the iPad and they were canceled.
Some companies decided to go back to the drawing boards and are currently working on new initiatives which might bring a new crop of tablet products to market. The company which seems to be making the best organized effort would seem to be HP which decided to dump its original Windows-based tablet and invested $1.2 Billion in the acquisition of Palm and its webOS mobile operating system.
Other companies are undoubtedly working on creating their own alternatives to the iPad and they are getting restless with their inability to have a quick response to Apple. A recent article published by The Wall Street Journal called attention to just how much interest the iPad is drawing in the enterprise space. Articles such as these only underline a trend that has been forming since the iPad’s initial introduction. People that bought and iPad for personal use are taking it to work and using them in much the same way that cell phones are used.
If you have both a personal and a business cell phone, you don’t leave the personal one at home when you go to work. The iPad is an intrinsically personal device. You might let your children play some games on it, let your wife of husband browse the web a bit, but in the end it is “your” iPad. The email accounts that are configured are yours, the Twitter accounts in your favorite Twitter client are yours and the feeds and accounts on Flipboard are yours.
Whatever competition to comes to market to face off against the iPad will do so from a terribly handicapped position as iPad users, which are already counted in the millions are parading around in the office, at class and in coffee shops just how practical and convenient they are. The existence of so many applications for the iPad is enough to set it apart from the competition, and that doesn’t even begin to consider the whole ecosystem of accessories that has sprung around it.
While the iPad is certain to have some competition in the not too distant future, it pretty much got a free ride in 2010. It is highly unlikely that a device will be released this year in time to take a significant slice of the market away from the iPad. The iPad is well positioned to take a similar portion of the tablet market as that occupied by the iPod in the portable music player market. There are countless competitors to the iPod in the music player business. Each of them has a comparably small slice of the market and therefore get much less attention from accessory manufacturers. The number of stands, cases and other accessories that have been released for the iPad over the past six months is quite impressive and I sincerely doubt that many other devices will command such attention and support from the companies that make those accessories.
It is unlikely that a device capable of directly competing with the iPad in size, weight, battery life, capability and applications will see the light of day within 2010. Despite all the recent vaporware talk by some computer manufacturers it is also unlikely that they will bring to market something which could pose a real challenge to the iPad any time in the foreseeable future. The one company that might be in a position to make an effort in the near future is HP.
As we enter September, and start it off with another Apple special event, we get closer and closer to when Apple will be ready to announce the second generation of the iPad. Well before that rumors will be flying wild in the specialized press and in the blogosphere. That should give even more reason for other manufacturers to be worried. After all, it would be extremely unsavory to come out with a device which seems well prepared to face off the first generation iPad only to find out that Apple has upped the stakes.
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