Apple Legitimizes the Tablet With iPad – Android Stands Poised to Raise the Bar

Search “tablet” within Androidguys and you will find 63 results dating as far back as July 2008. No, the idea of a tablet isn’t new. The biggest question revolving around these devices that fit somewhere between a smart phone and a laptop was, would anyone buy one?

The answer initially was a resounding “not really”.

On paper, the idea of a tablet makes sense. We get our data on our laptops or desktop at home and at work. While we are out we can get the information we need from our phones. The gap in our I.A.A. (Information Access Ability) was our time spent on the couch.

Sure, we could lug the laptop in there with us.  However, after a while the heat would get to us or we would have to find the power cable. In short, the laptop wasn’t really made to lug around from the couch the bathroom and back.  I guess you could use it for that purpose but that’s not what it was built for.  I bet many of you have anyways.

Companies that make their money from consumers accessing information online want to close that I.A.A. gap. Thus, the idea of the tablet was born.

Apple has led the charge before in terms of creating and/or legitimizing devices and is doing it again with this week”s release of the iPad. The iPad could be viewed as “just another tablet computer”, but it comes from the company with the aforementioned success at creating buzz behind its devices. Going forward, it will be impossible to deny that tablets are now here to stay.

Tech companies have long had followers in the same vein as a Trekkie who would travel to Fresno in June for a sneak Peak at William Shatner as Captain Kirk. When tech companies talk, geeks listen. When Apple talks, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average listen.  I have no doubt I will be asked tonight at home by my wife and kids about today’s announcement, that’s the power of Apple.

The tablet is now legitimized.

What makes today’s release unique is that Apple isn’t introducing anything necessarily revolutionary. As mentioned earlier, tablets have been done before. The bar is raised by the iPad, but not to the degree that it will take years before we see alternatives worthy of it like it took for a device to seriously compete with the iPhone.  What remains to be seen now is which hardware maker will meet the challenge to build a better tablet.

With the Nexus One Google has shown a willingness to step up to the plate and out-Apple Apple. Their announcement of the N1 was done in a way modeled by Apple. Doesn’t it makes sense that Google explores the possibility of raising the bar on the tablet computer next?

All the screenshots of the iPad remind me of Android 2.0 in that it could also make for the basis of  a great tablet. All Google needs is a hardware manufacturer and some additions to its software. An improved music player and an ebook option should be enough to match the functionality of iPad. Find someone to build a thin device with at least a 10 inch screen and the bar is raised again, only this time by Google and Android.

I bet we see the “iPad killer” sometime during the Summer, possibly from Google. Thanks to Apple for raising the bar and legitimizing these devices. Their stay at the top of the tablet hill will not be as long as their stay on the smart phone hill was.  I guarantee it.

  • Like you say, we should thank Apple for making the Average Joe aware of the Tablet. No matter how many obscure (and not so obscure) Far East tech companies churn out Tablets, they will only attract us geeks.
    Even better: In the Tablet format, Androids main advantage over iPhone OS will be even more obvious. Multi Tasking (for God's sake, Apple!). People will think it's a computer, and even Average Joe knows he can surf the web while writing a document, or play a game while listening to music. Computers multi tasks. Period.

    • Jose Salviati

      Well said ZilverZurfarn (from now on, you will be known as Z2 🙂 ), "computers multitask" – nough said. There is plenty of room to improve on the iPad and someone will, soon. Thanks for the comment.

  • iPad is not a computer in a sense. Rather it's a consumer-oriented device. Akin a nice fridge or a sleek washing machine. It's not built for geeks. Apple doesn't build hardware for geeks. Never did. Geeks go HP for hardware and Google for software.

    While it's conceivable that Google or another company can build a more functional tablet device reasonably fast, it's not going to match the polish and appeal of iPad due to fundamentally different philosophies of these other companies.

    Remember that "average Jacks and Jills" outnumber geeks 1000 to 1. And oftentimes these guys and gals value style over function. With the right pricing and the marketing leverage Apple will likely to move iPad in quantities.

    With all my respect to Android – and I've been developing for the platform for the past year and half – I just don't see it overtaking hearts and minds of the consumer. Unless Google suddenly decides that polish and gloss matter.

    Borys Burnayev

    • Jose Salviati

      Well put Brunayev – but thats my point. The OS on the Nexus One IS polished. It zooms, its crisp, its "Apple-esq". The software IS there, all that the manufacturer who wants to build the iPad kilelr needs is the hardware to match. We will see it soon..

      Thanks for the comment!

      • James

        While the OS is there for Android the applications aren't. Watch the videos and look at the redesigned applications. Apple has been working on this for a while. You can't get that kind of polish overnight.

        It would take years of development for an Android tablet to be competitive with the iPad. Unless someone is already working on it, there is no way to catch up soon. Are any Android developers doing applications like what Apple showed?

        • Browsers, maps, eBook readers and many other apps will work without modifications on Android tablets. iWork suite is cool, and I hope Docs2Go developers working on something similar.

          I'd use tablet mainly for browsing web and watching videos. With Flash and CorePlayer coming to Android devices, guess what OS I choose? Yes, it was rhetorical question 🙂

    • Dave Haynie

      Well, Apple wants you think it's an appliance… but they also want you to think a Macintosh is an appliance. Truth is, it's not. It's also not a PC, but like a PC, it's application processing device… it gains new functionality from a variety of sources. This is very un-appliance-like. Your fridge, your washing machine, etc. ship doing everything they will ever do in their lifetime.

      This was [sadly] true of DVD players (sure, they play different DVDs, but most didn't even support software fixes), but these days most reasonable computer-based appliances support updates: Blu-Ray players, video game consoles, digital cameras, R/C controllers, etc. That might even entail tweaks to functionality, but it's still essentially the same device.

      This is not the case with an iPod/Phone, not the case with an Android device, not the case with a PC. When I add software, I get an entirely new function. There's a difference of details between tablet, phone/PDA, and computer, but not of basic concept.

      And this is the major problem geeks, nerds, and other smart people with computer experience have with Apple's products: they're dumbing things down far more than they need to. And largely just to benefit their own agenda. There's absolutely no problem running multiple apps on an iPhone, it works just dandy, and the 3-10% of users who've Jail-broken their iPhones can attest (numbers vary). But allowing multitaking would allow applications that do many of the "special" things that only Apple can do today. They don't want to give that power to developers, or that functionality to users.

      I'm actually kind of happy about Apple's approach… they're powerful enough. It's like back in the 80s and 90s, looking at all the stupid things Microsoft did. Annoying, yes, but imagine if they didn't? Nothing could stand against them. Same with Apple… they're really only shooting their own feet. No one's going to not buy an iPhone or iPad because it multitasks, or because it allows you to buy music, video, ebooks, or applications from more than one vendor, or that play on other devices. But plenty will not buy it for those reasons. That's good for innovation, and in particular, one big reason Android will eclipse iPhone as the top platform for non-PC applications processors. This will certainly occur by the end of 2011, but this year, it'll be obvious to pretty much everyone that it's inevitable. Not just us fan-people here.

      • Jose Salviati

        I have nothing to add to this eloquently delivered comment!

        Thanks Dave.

  • I admit iPhone OS still looks and feels more polished. But Vista looked more polished than XP, and see how that went. I still think Jack & Jill will look at iPad as a computer, and expect it to behave as a computer. We (geeks) agree on that it's not a computer (and take it for what it is – an overgrown iPod Touch, a concept we may like or dislike). In the end, Jack&Joe will be undewhelmed with the capabilities of the iPag, as their expectations are wrong, no matter how polished it is. They buy what they yhink is a Corvette, and find it's equipped with a 1 litre, 4 cyl 52 hps engine.

    • Dave Haynie

      Here's the thing…. most iPhone users think of their iPhone as a computer, just a pocket-sized one. They're absolutely going to think similar things about the iPad. It's not a PC, but it very much is a computer.

      Taken as an appliance, it's great, right… my toaster oven doesn't morph into an iBook reader, my dish washer doesn't play MP3s. Though technically, my Blu-Ray player could do all of those things.

      But as a computer, it's going to come up short. And the competition is already there. While its true that most tablet computers have been relative expensive PC-based tablets, this year at CES, cheap tablets were everywhere. These were split between "big smartphone" tablets, very similar in concept to the iPad, running Android on ARM chips, and scaled down PCs, tablets based on Netbook CPUs. These will ultimately both be cheaper and more capable than the iPad. Though I'll wait for one that actually works as an eBook reader.

      Hint: if I can't read it in the full sun of a July summer on the beach, it's not an acceptable eBook reader. Until then, my DROID does the job. Oh, and did anyone else notice that Apple's eBook reader application's GUI looks like a blatent ripoff of Aldiko?

      • Jose Salviati

        My dishwasher plays MP3's. Just saying! Don't hate. 🙂

    • Jose Salviati

      Nice, I was hoping you would comment again so I could use your aforementioned nickname, Z2. There is a great video online that demos the N1 along side the iPhone. Maybe I'm off, but I don't see much difference in "polish". The OS is there – the hardware isnt. Once someone makes a tablet to match the look of the iPad they can throw Android 2.x on there and they WILL have a better iPad. It WILL multitask and should have a cam; in short, it should address every weakness of the iPad – including the silly name! 🙂

      B's point that "Average Joe" listens to and possibly only buys Apple is valid. I think "Average Joe" is listening to Google now too however. If Google can find someone to make them a tablet pc which they can sell online – like the N1 – it will succeed! I know it. Lets call it the ePad, or the gPad? 🙂

  • Shaun

    You guys are a bit late to the news.

  • Jose Salviati

    Developers… respond! 🙂

    I think Mr. and Mrs. Average will buy an "iPad Killer" based more on the OS (ei: the quick 10 minutes they get with the device before buying – the first impression) rather than based on a slick app. But, can't deny that Apple has the lead both in number of apps and the look/feel of the app. Too bad you can only run one at a time 🙂

    Thanks for the comment James.

    • James

      The multitasking issue is way overblown for most user. Mr. & Mrs. Average will only care that they click the home button, respond to an email, click the home button again and are back where they were in Pages or whatever application they were running.

      While something like Pandora could really use the ability to run in the background there are few other applications that need it. Notifications take care of a good deal of what background applications are used for on other platforms.

      Apple needs to improve their notification system to make it more robust. And I suspect that they may add limited background applications in the future but the idea that average users won't buy an iPad because of the lack of third-party multitasking is far-fetched. Witness the success of the iPhone without it.

      As for people buying because of an OS, that is quite a strange thing to say. For something like the iPad, users don't even see the OS. You just see applications. I'm not sure if I understand what you are trying to say.

      You really need to take a close look at what Apple is planning on shipping with the iPad. These are not the iPhone applications, they are completely revamped for the new platform. They are already very polished. If no developers are currently working on the equivalent tablet apps on Android, it will take years to catch up.

      • Jose Salviati

        I meant that Average Joe will likely pick up the iPad at the Apple store and spend more time with the OS than any one app. My wife is very much the anti-geek, Mrs. Average-Joe! She wouldn't know an app from an ack. Honestly, she would head to the Apple store with her mind already made up! But, that aside, she would pick up the iPad and play around by moving around within the OS; she wouldn't distinguish an app – any app – from the look and feel of the OS.

        Great point on the multitasking thing – hasn't hurt iPhone much huh? I think the only ones bothered by that aren't Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average.

        As it relates to the apps – well, I guess we will see. I know the eReader app is cool, but short of that I didn't see anything in the demo that doesnt either exist in some for or another in Android. Time will tell though, right James?

        Lets reconvene in six months. I'll have my people call your people! 🙂

  • Jose Salviati

    AndroidGuys are NEVER late! 🙂

    That piece was published Jan 28th 2010 10:54AM. Our article came out before that. 🙂

    The ball is rolling – although this doesn't look like anything that will mount much of a threat to the dreaded iPad….. does it?

    • Shaun

      Except that Engadget originally showcased it on January 8th. Their original post is linked in the one I linked.

      Actually, I think it's a perfect threat to the iPad. It has flash and multitasking, and starting price is the same. It is, however, missing a decent ebook reader and 3G connectivity… so far, at least. I suspec something will be available on both those fronts by launch time.

      • Jose Salviati

        Curses! Ok, well, so we are late SOMETIMES! 🙂

        Price is too high though, don't you think Shaun? For me to consider a tablet is has to come in under the price of a laptop – I think!??!?

  • Dave Haynie

    The only really interesting thing about the whole iPad announcement (well, other than the endless jokes everyone's having with the name "iPad") is the CPU… Apple's new A4 chip. Everyone knows they bought PA Semi to build CPUs (and perhaps, other chips) for iPods and iPhones… that's the one place they have the volume to justify custom CPU development.

    But that's got to be something pretty serious, or they're already behind nVidia's Tegra 2. They have dual core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9s, ultra low power HD video encoder and decoder coprocessor, separate ARM7 for system management, GPU for 2D/3D graphics (much better than the PowerVR core everyone else licenses), audio DSP, etc. A tablet with one of these and some kind of daylight viewing option, running Android, and I might believe in the Tablet concept.

    • Jose Salviati

      Great point you made on the daylight viewing option. Never considered that. Seems to me the tablet makers see it more as an indoor device than an outdoor one however…?!?!

      • bjtheone

        It depends… there are tradeoffs to everything. For great outdoors, bright, sun lit viewing you really need an e-ink type of display. LCDs sucks, and AMOLED are even worse. However, indoors the situation is much more even and under low light condition it flips.

        I hate, hate, HATE, the nasty black flash/refresh on e-ink readers. Love the display (under most light conditions), but can’t get over the refresh. The sloooow refresh also annoys me as it gets in the way of the reading experience… every page flip brings me back to the device, out of the book and breaks into the flow of just reading. I read a lot of books on my Android phone (have almost 400 books in the on phone library) and read 2-4 books a week. it works great on the couch, ok in the car, lousy in direct sunlight, but one huge win is reading in bed as it has its own backlight, so I don’t need the reading lamp on annoying my wife.

        I spend many hours a day staring at a laptop lcd screen and don’t have any issues reading on the phone lcd screen. Setting the backlight as low as possible, for the ambient light conditions seems to make the difference for me. At least for me the “LCDs are bad for e-readers” is way over hyped. Also, I don’t read many books out in the bright sunlight or on the beach. I do read a lot late in the evening and in bed.

        I am very interested in getting a larger smartphone to use as a e-reader… following the Dell Mini 5 with a great deal of interest.

    • Hammerd

      I'd check what video encode/decode and 2d/3d specs the PowerVR cores in the A4 have before making comments comparing raw power and power consumption figures with Tegra 2 chips to avoid embarrassing egg/face scenarios 🙂

  • For those of us underwhelmed by iPad, this ( ) looks promising, and has kept me in a state of perpetual inner negotiations for funding (which I'm confident my wallet will eventually lose) for some time. Price right, OS'es right, features right (OK, a 10" screen instead of 7" would be sweet, but…)
    And when we're talking about e-readers; e-ink is a must. Anything else is just a toy in that area.

  • I think this device is well over-hyped. As competitive as the market is these days it won't be long until the Android releases a similar product with much more functionality such as multitasking (which seems to be Android's claim to fame so far).

  • I think Android will be a good competition but I don't think it could be the iPad Killer.

  • i like android tablet it work

  • The only ipad killer or competition i see as of now is the Adam from Notion Ink :

  • Hey there is absolutely nothing wrong with some healthy competition in the market! Without it we'd all still be wrestling with Windows (OMG!). Last thing I want to see is Apple sitting all smug at the top of the hill not innovating because nobody is snapping at their heals. Apple started this game, and I sure hope they continue to lead the race.

  • We have already seen the Samsung Galaxy Tablet. In the run up to Christmas I am sure we will see a few more tablets hitting the shops!

  • isn’t it ?

  • he absolutely loves it!

  • so easy

  • They really made an excellent combination because all their products are excellent and one of a kind. The companies will have great benefits because of this.

  • pmp

    Question is who will be the first to beat the iPad?

  • I just don’t know how long apple will be able to holdout with the onsalught of android – yes – mac had the best mobile operating system. But do they still hold that? I think not.. apple needs to innovate or at least accept android as an option on their hardware.. But looking at their history i doubt this.

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