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2011 Tablet Comparison Chart

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Our prediction for the top selling tablets of 2011

Alex Fergusson Architects

T-Day has arrived!

Tablet day is here.  

Each year at the start of September, there's a massive trade show in Berlin called IFA. (It stands for Internationale Funkausstellung - International Radio trade show) It's one of the biggest - and certainly amongst the most important - in the gadget trade show calendar. This is because gadget sales are very much greater around Christmas and anyone wanting to sell big at Christmas really has to get their goods to market by late October, which means showing them off to the trade at about this time of year.




2011: A Year in Tablets- Part 2: the reality check

After the good news, here's a little list of things that haven't gone as well as we had hoped. Perhaps you could call it a list of miss-steps. They probably mark the end of the line for some of the iPad alternatives, and, realistically, a set-back of six months for the Android contenders.

  1. In a strange and unexpected statement, Google's Hugo Barra said that Android's version 2.2 (called Froyo) was not ready to support tablets.

  2. With this difficult backdrop, Samsung's skilful launch of the 7" Galaxy Tab, which ran Android Froyo, achieved slightly disappointing sales despite the product itself being mostly solid and satisfying.

  3. Rushed out just before the launch of Apple's new iPad, Motorola's Xoom tablet, built in close cooperation with Google, was a bit of a disappointment. It came with the new version of Android, Honeycomb, which now was supposed to be ready for tablets. But the first Xooms were overpriced, jerky, a little bit chunky, and worst of all, they came with a micro-SD memory card slot which could not be accessed.

  4. It's very hard, when you've built a memory card slot, to explain to a customer that they won't need it. Still harder when neither Google nor Motorola have employed anybody specifically to do this job.

  5. Google launched a second operating system - the ChromeOS for the "Chromebook". Users are never going to love a platform which won't work if they don't have access to the Cloud but that was all that Chrome OS had to offer although there have now been some small improvements. While IT departments might like the idea of a Cloud-based OS, for potential buyers, it just adds to the confusion created by having manufacturers already selling different versions of Android (Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread and Honeycomb) all at the same time.

  6. RIM's tablet companion to their Blackberry phone, called the Playbook, launched with much fanfare, but its unique platform, QNX, lacked many features when the Playbook was not tethered to a Blackberry - even Email. Sales, again, were a disappointment. RIM's share price is down around 50%. The Blackberry smartphone's market share is down to 7.5%.

  7. It turned out, after the earlier statement saying Android Froyo could not run tablets, that, in fact, the new Honeycomb could not run smaller 7" tablets either. Not, at least until quite a few mods had been made.

  8. HP's Touchpad launched to show the benefits of WebOS, the platform HP had bought with the Palm company a year earlier. The tablet looks very similar to the iPad 1, but with no rear camera. Only weeks later, the Touchpad was messily withdrawn.

  9. Apple are suing Samsung saying that the Samsung Tab 10.1 is a copy of the iPad.  This is despite the fact that the HP Touchpad is actually rather more like an iPad. Perhaps they are really trying to attack Android? Apple and Samsung, in fact, have eleven different legal actions going against one another in nine different countries across four continents despite Samsung being one of Apple's biggest suppliers. Lawyers (mostly American ones) are having a feeding frenzy at everyone else's expense. It seems now quite widely accepted that patent legislation is being abused and that reform of the process is needed - but it will take time.

  10. Google have bought Motorola. In many ways, this could be good news, as they have acquired extra patents to help in their fight to protect Android. But Motorola's hardware manufacture - and even more significantly, their sales infrastructure are unsettling for other manufacturers who choose to use Android. Ideally, Google would sell these parts of the business as soon as they have managed to avail themselves of the tax benefits that result from buying a loss-making business.

  11. Steve Jobs has resigned from Apple.  He has been unwell for years, but his genius for product design is almost undisputed and his presence will be missed. Despite his health issues it is possible that the timing of his departure is related to Apple's legal actions - particularly those against Samsung. Perhaps he is uncomfortable with Apple's aggressive litigious stance - he certainly should be.

When all said and done, these events should represent no more than a delay in the progress of Android when seen in the light of the platform's huge smartphone presence. We are hoping to see a more balanced competition established between Apple's iPad and the alternative Android contenders in time for IFA 2012.

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