Tablet War Heats Up

Wayne Rash

Samsung is going to provide a tablet version of its Android-based Galazy S smartphone for Verizon Wireless later this year. The new tablet will be unveiled in Berlin later this week, and should be part of a pre-Christmas onslaught by Verizon. HP, meanwhile, has announced WebOS 2.0 just in time for the new version of the HP tablet. While the new version of WebOS will also run on the previous Pre smartphones made by Palm, it was an upgrade that was necessary for the OS to work properly in a tablet environment.

HP will, of course, also release a new version of its venerable Windows tablet, which is aimed at the enterprise market, especially for certain verticals. At this point, it's not clear which carrier will get the HP WebOS tablet. Previous WebOS devices were sold by three of the four major carriers in the U.S. market.

One thing that is clear is that the tablet market has become more defined as an outgrowth of smartphones rather than laptop computers, which is once where tablets seemed to stem from. The iPad, for example, draws very heavily on the iPhone and iPod Touch and lacks only the ability to make voice calls to keep it from simply being a very large iPhone.

WebOS devices will have a similar heritage. While Palm originally made handhelds that were the effective predecessors of today's tablets, it's Palm's smartphones that are morphing into HP's consumer tablets. While it remains to be seen whether a WebOS-based tablet can hold its own against the iPad, it certainly has the ability to do so. WebOS has long been a highly robust mobile operating system with a better selection of enterprise-friendly features than Apple's iOS.

The problem so far has been that Palm's hardware design and user interface have suffered. It's likely that with HP at the helm, the WebOS software may find itself in significantly better hardware. HP certainly has the capability to produce such world-class results, but whether it will do so is another one of those open questions.

The Android tablets from Samsung are a little easier to predict. The Galaxy S devices are available from three of the four major carriers, and all reports are very positive. These are fine devices with an aggressive feature set. Of course, moving the devices to a larger screen might change all of that, as might the finesse required to make the device seem as well-thought-out as Apple's iPad.

In general, Android devices, while different in philosophy from the Apple devices, are their equal in terms of features, software availability and operation. Apple has more software than Android, but more of the Android apps are free.

The result, come Christmas, is that we'll likely see three well-designed, highly capable and highly competitive tablets that will be vying for your electronics bucks. The iPad has the head start, but Android devices have been catching up in smartphones. And perhaps HP can produce a tablet that's sufficiently well done to give the others a run for their money. It'll be fun to watch, and it'll be interesting to see if any tablet maker can maintain the price points currently demanded by Apple and the iPad. My guess is that we'll see a price war, too. At least we can hope.

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Sep 1, 2010 8:09 PM Vykturreous Vykturreous  says:
Let's put things into perspective. Apple deserves credit for catapulting the smart-phone business, period. However, the iPhone's popularity is more about the iTunes and app store ecosystem then anything else. The aforementioned, includes it presently seeming to have a marginal OS and UI which is due to increased competition and innovation by webOS, and Android advances. Android, has found it's own niche without selling music, video, eBook,and such. This is because Google didn't try to be Apple: Google developed a strategy of providing integration with everything they in their "Free" catalog. In other words, Google developed it own ecosystem by tapping into what it already offered online into its Android OS. This leaves us with webOS which may be the best of the three (iOS, Android, webOS)smart-phone OS', in my humble opinion (and, I currently own an iPhone 4.) However, if HP-Palm fails to develop its own ecosystem that will draw customers and show them that without a webOS device they are missing out on something big, webOS will go nowhere. In essence, Apple's iTunes and App Store, and Google's integration of its online offerings act as "web syncing portals." Simply put, HP-Palm will stagnate if it doesn't provide users a syncing portal for their phones to compete with what it is that customers want with mobile devices; more integration with everything they do in their lives. And,no, printers are not going to get people to buy their webOS mobile devices. The answer maybe to take what's best from both ecosystems/business models. For instance, provide an iTunes lite version for syncing your phone's music, video, and eBooks so that they can not only be used on your computing devices, but also stored when you want to free up space on your mobile device. In addition, webOS' strongest feature, Multi-tasking, providing integration with everything possible. This means, designing a portal that from the home page a user can easily open app cards and use them on your other computing devices. Imagine connecting your mobile device to your home computer then a window opening up a "webOSync" window where you could manage everything with the multi-tasking capabilities of webOS: listen to your music app while reading your Yahoo email from the app/card, you can open another email app/card, let's say Gmail, client and copy and paste information cross email platforms. At the same time, attach photos downloaded from your phone or on your computer to the email and send. This portal might not be necessary for other webOS devices but more people have Microsoft Windows and a growing number are using Apple OS X at home. Lastly, this webOS portal can also provide online surfing through its browser app/card so that you could copy and paste straight from any website onto any app/card. I hope someone at HP-Palm reads my suggestions, researches and develops an ecosystem that no one else provides becoming a game changer. Do you think webOS can survive without its own ecosystem? Reply
Oct 15, 2010 2:10 AM Robert Taylor Robert Taylor  says:
An interesting comment by Vykturreous. HP was a real pioneer with free software apps as a viral marketing technique back with the introduction of the HP65 programmable calculators. For HP perhaps they should go back and discover their roots and see what made them into the company they are today. Apple as always is run by control freaks and while they make nice products they will always be a little short of what you want just because Apple decided it wasn't necessary or that it messed up an upsale for a later item (marketing IS their forte). If Google steps back and allows the community to develop things with some nice support (and free advertising) they will be the 900 lb gorilla for a long time to come. What ever happened to Symbian? Symbian who? Reply
Dec 27, 2010 9:12 AM tablet info tablet info  says:
Good review! Tablet war 2 started. this is clear and good for all of us.Many of the companies keep their cards close to his chest.Some do not show the full specifications of the computers, others do not even say their name Ltabelttim. more at tablet info With increasing proliferation and Tablet PCs, you may wonder if you want or need, and if so � so what. Here are all expected to be exposed to new Ahtabelttim exhibition. Apple seems Shlayeped expect tough competition. Reply

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