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Handhelds Apple

The Coming Onslaught of iPad Competitors 497

Posted by timothy
from the let's-back-off-from-the-k-word dept.
harrymcc writes "The iPad is selling as well as it is in part because no large manufacturer has had a direct rival out yet. But boy, is that going to change in the next few months. Over at Technologizer, I rounded up known information on 32 current and future tablet computing devices, from potentially worthy iPad competitors to wannabees to interesting specialty devices. By early 2011 these things are going to be everywhere, and it'll be fascinating to see how they fare." Related: the tablet-type device I've been watching most eagerly, Notion Ink's Adam, seems to finally have a realistic manufacturing prediction and price range (by November; up to $498 for the version with 3G and Pixel Qi screen).
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The Coming Onslaught of iPad Competitors

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  • Useless review (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thammoud (193905) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:03PM (#33234512)

    Most have a question mark next to the review. Steve can sleep at night.

  • so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stillpixel (1575443) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:04PM (#33234524) Homepage Journal
    Yep, I bet everyone will abandon the iPad once some of the incredible competitor models are revealed.. I really can't wait for one of those awesome Windows 7 based 'tablets' ... other companies have been making 'tablet' computers since the early 2000's, but not until Apple produced one of their own has anyone really taken interest in them.
  • Re:Do not want. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:10PM (#33234550)

    Do not want. Any.

    If more tablets leads to better and cheaper eReaders, then I'm all for it.

  • Re:Do not want. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:15PM (#33234576)

    Great... but I do want.

    So where does that leave us? Me happy, and you no worse off but apparently whiny.

  • Re:so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nebaz (453974) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:21PM (#33234612)

    iPad : "Awesome Windows 7 based 'tablets" :: iPod : Zune ?

     

  • Re:Do not want. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:21PM (#33234614)

    tablets are great for 'consuming' content (now I feel dirty even using marketspeak like that).

    but its true, its not oriented to create things. you basically tap your paw and get some goody back. for that, they work great. to expect more means a true revolution in UI design. not gonna happen with apple (they are too happy with the 'consuming pre-made content' notion) and will take a true visionary to accomplish.

    we're still waiting. but hopeful.

  • Re:so... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:22PM (#33234620)
    I doubt any other tablet will have the media fawning over it to the degree they did with the iPad. I also doubt any other manufacturer has the number of followers who would buy one no matter what its capabilities are. Apple does enjoy certain marketing advantages (that they've earned to a degree) that others don't have.
  • by carlhaagen (1021273) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:22PM (#33234628)
    ...when checking the one-liner review verdicts for the devices in this list:

    "Engadget didn’t find it terribly satisfying."
    "The Android Blog tried one and wasn’t exactly knocked out."
    "UMPC Portal’s review says it’s not anywhere near as good as it looks."
    "Engadget really didn’t care for it."
    "Ubergizmo gave it a semi-positive review."

    Does this sound anything like the reviews the iPad got? Hopefully the situation will change quickly to bring competition to benefit us customers.
  • Re:Useless review (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:24PM (#33234638)

    Steve can sleep at night.

    Judging by what happened to most of the iPod killers and what Microsoft is looking likely to do I'd say he'll be sleeping soundly. I'd be more worried about Android based tablets, ChromeOS on the other hand is IMHO a joke.

  • Re:Do not want. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:26PM (#33234652)

    Have you seen some of the art (and, for that matter, heard some of the music) that people have created on the ipad? It sucks for "creating content" in the "i have to type on a keyboard" sense, but it's actually pretty effective when you don't need a full keyboard to create something.

    For some things, a keyboard will probably always be better. For others, the keyboard is really kind of pointless, and a tablet with no keyboard works surprisingly well.

  • Re:so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:28PM (#33234658)

    Apple does enjoy certain marketing advantages (that they've earned to a degree) that others don't have.

    Yes, like a history of thoughtful design and a slew of devices that work much better than their competitors for normal usage patterns, despite having fewer "and the kitchen sink" features.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:32PM (#33234692) Homepage Journal

    The iPad is selling as well as it is in part because no large manufacturer has had a direct rival out yet.

    Even with a 'direct rival' they will still sell well as some people prefer one brand over another.

    Nice try at an Apple bash tho..:)

  • History repeats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cshbell (931989) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:32PM (#33234694)

    Go back about five years in the archives of most tech publications and you can find similar stories about "The coming onslaught of iPod competitors." Look how that worked out.

    For some reason, the tech community believes that the commoditize-and-cannabalize cycle that typified the 1980s and 1990s is a perpetual law. It isn't, and Apple's success this decade is a resounding rejoinder to that view. Apple's products aren't, in all respects, better than the competitors; what they are is more polished, more refined, and an order of magnitude easier to pick up on and figure out on your own.

    The typical screeds about how Apple's success is due to marketing prowess, reality distortion fields, media sycophancy, etc. are all a bunch of red herrings. Apple makes great products, and it's a real shame that more companies haven't picked up on how they do it and why. It's not rocket science to diligently refine your products while at the same time planning their long-term placement growth; it's just more involved than most companies want to be.

    So sure, I'm sure there will be an onslaught of cheaper, different tablets that mindless consumers (Who, I might add, the tech community still believes to be largely ignorant about technology. You know, in 2010.) will buy up and the iPad will be dead. It's impossible that, say, every single one of the competitor tablets will be inferior in one or more significant ways that fails to make an appreciable dent in the iPad's adoption rate. Equally impossible that Apple would refine the iPad beyond its current iteration to entice new customers. I mean, really.

    I'm not giving Apple the keys to the kingdom carte blanche, as heaven knows they've made their share of mistakes, but on the whole, I think they've been too successful, too visionary, and too aggressive to continue this endless narrative about how, just when they're about to succeed, the commodity tech market comes up aces and wins the hand.

  • by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:37PM (#33234720)

    When are all those ARM-based netbooks with Linux that we were promised going to show up? I'll take one with a Tegra 2 processor, Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and a Pixel Qi display please!

    I'll pay extra for one in a form factor more like a Macbook Air, with a little extra screen, decent sized trackpad, etc.

    Hello? Anybody out there?

    Shhh... Keep quiet. We're currently really busy copying Apple and failing faster than you can say "and one more thing".

  • Re:History repeats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:39PM (#33234728)

    The typical screeds about how Apple's success is due to marketing prowess, reality distortion fields, media sycophancy, etc. are all a bunch of red herrings.

    They certainly are not "red herrings," they are relevant and the reason that Apple has been successful this past decade. Case-in-point: they have everyone calling their line of personal computers "Macs" and every other company's products "PCs," despite the fact that the differences at this point are superficial. Apple also has everyone convinced that their products are "better," even though few people can really say what makes Apple products "better" and what Apple products are actually better than.

    The OLPC XO was very easy to use, yet somehow Sugar/Linux doesn't get the same sort of attention Mac OS X or iOS do. Being easy to use, being polished, being "better" does not get you very far.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:41PM (#33234740)
    Well, depending on who you ask...

    http://www.defectivebydesign.org/ipad [defectivebydesign.org]
  • by couchslug (175151) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:42PM (#33234742)

    Really Good netbooks would cannibalize notebook sales. Expect "product differentiation" to ensure little of that happens.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:42PM (#33234744) Homepage

    Wait now, didn't we agree there was no such thing as a market for an iPad? And now we're suddenly discussing what knock-offs will compete for a slice of the profits?

    The latter is quite simple, none of the other really get out of the Catch 22. Users don't buy until there's apps and app developers don't develop until there's a market. Unless you're Steve Jobs and provably have millions of followers, then you hit critical hype and get a sufficient quantity of apps and users out there simultaneously to set the snowball rolling. Exhibit A, the iPhone. Out of the box quite satisfactory but nothing special compared to HTC and the other smart phones. But hell, given all the useful and funny and clever (and gimmicky and useless) apps Ive seen for it, even I want one by now. Not because I think Apple is that great, but because that's where the applications are.

    I think next they'll make the home entertainment center common - oh they've been around forever with Windows Media Center and such but so had the Windows tablets. I don't really count the AppleTV as one either, it's more of a warmup. Not as a console replacement, but one taking a big chunk out of the "casual" gaming market Nintendo has shown is there with the Wii too. And really bringing that together has the core in your system setup, not a Mac. And possibly finally bring around the TV revolution where more people get series and movies via iTunes over the Internet than over broadcasts and cable. Well, the legal revolution anyway ;).

  • by sootman (158191) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:46PM (#33234764) Homepage Journal

    He totally forgot the Pandigital Novel [pandigital.net] -- a 7" Android tablet that is pitched mainly as an e-reader but which has many other capabilities. Sure, it's gotten lukewarm reviews, but at least it exists, unlike most of what's on his list.

    On a related note, does anyone know if the new WebKit browser on the now-$139 Kindle is any good?

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:49PM (#33234782)

    I think next they'll make the home entertainment center common

    Their pro-DRM stance should fit in nicely with the current state of affairs surrounding set-top boxes.

    And possibly finally bring around the TV revolution where more people get series and movies via iTunes over the Internet than over broadcasts and cable.

    Nicely DRMed and "protected" (read: restricted) from the users doing what they want to do with the clips. Mandatory, un-skippable advertising? You bet! Time shifting? Only for the shows that they want to let you time shift!

    You know, a lot of us were saying that it is unfortunate that there is a market for the iPad, since it is so restrictive and designed to undermine its users' freedoms. If Apple ventures into TV, we will probably wind up saying the same thing, unless Apple decides to do an about-face (I won't hold my breath).

  • Re:History repeats (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kostya (1146) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:56PM (#33234846) Homepage Journal

    Are you seriously comparing the OLPC XO Sugar interface to iOS and the iPad?

    I own both. While I have always loved the OLPC for what it represents, the total experience is not even in the same league as an iPad. Not even remotely close. I'm not dissing OLPC--I love mine. But it isn't even fair to put the two in the same ring and say they are the same kind of polish or experience.

    I agree with your points about Macs vs. PCs--Apple has somehow cast the conversation about the OS and the UI and then magically extended that to the hardware. But your comparison of Sugar and iOS is ... wow.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:57PM (#33234852)

    As I've posted before, you won't see them in bestbuy, but they've been on sale since 2003 or so, hell, I own an ARM based netbook and a MIPS based netbook myself. From time to time they get short amounts of shelf life in Frys electronics or other larger electronics stores, but they have been being sold for a long time. I have to say I'm pretty happy with my MIPS based one, aside from some slight keyboard woes I'm pretty happy with it, flashed the stupid locked down linux that came on it with Debian and later Gentoo. (Mine is a Skytone Alpha)

    Part of the issue you see though, they generally don't advertise the ARM based ones, and the ones that do make their way to some stores in the US NEVER list that they are ARM, you pretty much have to look up the model to find that out. If you want one on the cheap, check out a local HAM radio swap meet, I've actually met quite a few other people there with ARM/Mips based netbooks, and sometimes they have some used ones to sell cheap.

  • Re:History repeats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cshbell (931989) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:59PM (#33234862)
    The OLPC XO was very easy to use, yet somehow Sugar/Linux doesn't get the same sort of attention Mac OS X or iOS do.

    What real-world questions did the OLPC XO answer? I've never used one, so I honestly have no idea.

    For as many people as bought the various Apple products, Macs in the XP and Vista era answered the question, "Would you like your computer to not be a malware-infested heap of frustration?", the iPod answered the question, "Would you like to carry all your CDs in a fun little pocket-sized box?", and the iPhone answered the question, "Would you like to carry the Internet in your pocket?" Not really novel stuff, but it was packaged thoughtfully and it made sense to a lot of people without requiring a great amount of explanation. The iPad is arguably the first major Apple product in a while that doesn't immediately scratch an obvious itch. Its selling point is more along the lines of, "A lot of what you do with your computer, in a smaller, sleeker package."

    Again, I don't think it's rocket science. Apple built what their own people thought would be great, and lo and behold, a couple million other people thought it was great too. Sure, Apple is a slick marketer (although Apple's marketing budget is in line with other tech companies its size: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2009/10/28/apples-2009-ad-budget-half-a-billion/ [cnn.com]) and gets a lot of free love from pop culture, but it would be myopic to suggest that this is much more than sugar-coating on an already solid and aggressive business model.
  • Re:so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:00PM (#33234864)
    One problem with Windows 7, "it isnt a tablet OS" were Android and Apple iOS 4 are. Yes you can skin windows 7 but as soon as you open an application you are back were you started with a desktop orientated application with menu's etc that are not tablet friendly. This has been why Windows tablets have been a failure and why Apple has sold more tablets in the last few months than the PC/Windows makers have in 10 years. I must give apple kudos for the iPAD (and Google for Android) as it forces "all applications to be tablet friendly" this is not so with Windows 7. Microsoft do have Windows Mobile 7 due out later this year but I think it will be a hard sell especially considering it will have bugger all applications (sorry WM 6.5 apps wont work on WM 7) especially with Android now offering over 75,000 applications and apple now around 200,000.
  • Right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dissy (172727) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:03PM (#33234876)

    By early 2011 these things are going to be everywhere, and it'll be fascinating to see how they fare."

    According to slashdot, they will all fail because despite Apples sales records, no one on earth would want something that isn't a notebook or laptop and falls in between!

  • Re:History repeats (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bky1701 (979071) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:03PM (#33234878) Homepage
    "Apple's products aren't, in all respects, better than the competitors; what they are is more polished, more refined, and an order of magnitude easier to pick up on and figure out on your own."

    Really? "Hold it wrong and lose the signal" doesn't scream "more polished, more refined, and an order of magnitude easier to pick up on" to me. But then, I am not subject to the RDF, so maybe I don't get it.
  • Re:so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:03PM (#33234884)

    I noticed that you left off the last part of my post:

    [...] for normal usage patterns, despite having fewer "and the kitchen sink" features.

    It's almost like you're trying to distort what I said to mean something I didn't say, so you can congratulate yourself on how clever you are for making a trite counterpoint!

  • by EEPROMS (889169) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:12PM (#33234938)
    you mean the cheap ass $150 unit that K-Mart is selling, next you will be comparing a $12,000 Kia with a $120,000 Mercedes S class saloon. The reality is "you only have one iPAD" were with Android in the next year you will have over 60 models, some cheap some expensive and many with more features than the iPAD. Good example is the MSI android tablet with a Webca,, SD card slot, USB, HDMI out and a bigger high res screen. I have even seen tablets with a LAN port just in case you have no WiFi access, the game has just started and Apple will have to seriously pick up its game. Soon I will be able to purchase a AU$500 Android tablet with 64GB of storage that can be upgraded and a bigger capacitive touch screen were right now Apple iPAD costs me AU$1,000 with no upgrade option and no USB/HDMI ports or webcam.
  • Re:History repeats (Score:3, Insightful)

    by samkass (174571) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:32PM (#33235024) Homepage Journal

    A lot of the folks thinking about iPad competitors seem to be overlooking two things:
    1. The iPad of today running iOS 3.2 is virtually yesterday's news. All iPad owners are going to get a huge upgrade in functionality when iOS 4.x comes out for it later this fall. That will, essentially, make it a "new" product again.
    2. Many of the competitors aren't slated to come out until late in Q1 2011 anyway. They won't be competing against the current iPad hardware, they'll be competing against iPad2 or whatever Apple calls next year's model. With a 2011 release date, the specs better not be in any way comparable to what the iPad has today or they'll be a year behind.

    As for sales of the iPad... I don't know anyone who owns one who isn't thinking of buying another one. It is so insanely useful to have a 1.5 pound computer that fits in any flat satchel and whose battery lasts all day. If you have kids and you don't have an iPad you don't know what you're missing.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:45PM (#33235066)

    Apple is first and foremost a fashion company these days, which is how they get their amazing margins. The fashion industry defies the normal pricing trend in that not only are people willing to spend more, but costing more can even be a GOOD thing.

    The iPod was not the first MP3 player or anything. What it was is a fashion accessory. It was, and still is, trendy to have one. Notice that the white earbuds because a status statement, to the point that 3rd party companies had to start making them. Etymotic said they'd never before had requests for white, but when the iPod came out people wanted higher quality earphones, but only if they were white.

    That is what really drives Apple business, and is why their profits are so high. Their margins are extremely high. In the tech industry, this is not tolerated. You find consumers are extremely price sensitive. However in the fashion industry it is, and to Apple's good fortune they've figured out how to sell tech as fashion.

    Now as for iPad competitors, well how much that'll matter will depend on two things:

    1) How technically good and cheap the competitors are. If the other tablets offer as good or better of a system for less, they'll sell well to anyone buying the tablet as a tool. After all as a tool the iPad is rather expensive since there are few tasks a tablet is truly well suited for. Most tasks, there are other devices that do a better job, other devices people usually own. So a good price will go a long way to making a niche device worth it. Likewise a good technical system (like the ability to install custom apps) will help. If the competitors have that, it'll hurt the iPad.

    2) How much the buying is fashion driven. If the iPad becomes a fashion statement, then it won't really matter what competes with it. It'll sell largely on its fashion, and thus the price and utility won't be much of an issue. People will buy it to have it and show it off, and need no other reason. However if it doesn't become a fashion item, then competition will be much more of a problem, since it'll have to compete on price and that is just something Apple doesn't do.

    That is really what it comes down to. So long as Apple keeps making devices that are fashionable, they are golden. They will sell lots, and they can sell them for a premium price, which equates to massive profits. If they can't do that, then they are in trouble. Not going out of business in trouble, they survived for many years not doing that, but their big profits will evaporate in a hurry and their sales will plummet unless they change.

    Who knows when that'll happen, or if it ever will. Some companies can ride the fashion wave forever, others have their time in the sun and then fade out.

  • by proxima (165692) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:47PM (#33235078)

    When the ipad was first announced, many commentators predicted that there would be a deluge of Android-based competitors with more features (Flash!) for less money. Here we are almost seven months later and frankly, this article sums up the sorry state of competition. Most of the devices are unavailable and many don't even have firm release dates (others are late). The predictions about beating Apple's pricing fell through (e.g. the JooJoo is $499, though it's a larger and significantly different device).

    Eventually we will have a nice selection of tablets, just like we now have a nice selection of smartphones. But you may have to wait a year or two for them; meanwhile, Apple will sell lots and lots of ipads, establishing a solid market for which developers will make lots of apps.

    Frankly, if I was waiting for one of these competitors I'd be getting pretty frustrated. The Notion Ink Adam has been hyped up all over the place, and keeps getting pushed back. The currently available devices (like the one from KMart) get pretty horrible reviews; it's clear that trying to go too cheap on the tablets leads to some huge sacrifices in quality of the screen, for example.

    What's interesting to me is that the major ereaders have responded to the ipad. Amazon and BN released apps for the ipad (Amazon on launch day!), while they both substantially dropped their ereader prices (responding to each other, too). They're carving out a niche - dedicated ereaders with eink screens getting down to the price points where people can buy them as gifts for each other in this coming holiday season. BN's nook actually runs Android, though it has to be jailbroken to make use of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:52PM (#33235108)

    Did you see the words "in part" in the sentence you quoted? That's right, a qualifying phrase. And I don't see any point in quibbling over it. It's clearly true: if you want a decent tablet today, you need to buy an iPad because the others suck. The iPad is locked down hard, which I don't like, but it doesn't actually suck.

    Not every comment is a try at an Apple bash.

    I'm hoping that in the next few months, some kind of worthy competition for the iPad will appear. And then, some people will buy tablets that aren't iPads, thus trivially proving that sentence you quoted. The iPad will continue to sell well, just as the iPod continues to sell well despite the presence in the market of non-sucky competitors.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:55PM (#33235120)
    The problem with the Ipad is that it's $500 These "alternatives" are also $500... they don't solve the problem. People want to surf the net, read books, and maybe do word processing on these things. There's no reason they need to be so built up that they cost $500. I can build a relatively high-end gaming computer for that much. There's no reason a pad should cost that much.
  • Re:Do not want. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:55PM (#33235124)

    Exactly - it's not going to fill every "creation" niche out there, but there are places where it is an excellent addition to the toolkit.

    I think we'll probably see some interesting updates in version 2 or 3 of the ipad, but I think you might see them pushing more for bluetooth or wifi/bonjour connectivity to other devices. Apple seems to hate putting ports on their devices... I don't think we're likely to see 4 mini-usb ports suddenly appear in the iPad 2.

  • by Tokerat (150341) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:58PM (#33235146) Journal

    Their pro-DRM stance should fit in nicely with the current state of affairs surrounding set-top boxes.

    DRM? Like how they took all the DRM off all the iTMS downloads? Or are you talking about how they insist on approving apps to make sure there isn't scamware in their store, unlike Android, which has ALREADY had problems.

    I don't care if you hate Steve and his turtlenecks, or if you hate every hipster with a trust fund whos daddy bought him a Macbook. it's time to face it: Apple makes good shit that works well, and people like it.

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @09:02PM (#33235166)
    Clearly some of the usual business-oriented players are moving in this direction (see RIM [mobilemag.com], Cisco [cisco.com]); but Apple has shown that the big money is in entertainment devices. It's actually kind of funny how this works. Microsoft and RIM were dominating the suit-wearing, jet-setting crowd, but then Steve Jobs waltzes in and sells high end smartphones and iPod Touch's to McDonalds workers and teenagers (many of whom can't really afford them), dwarfs MSFT's profits, and creates huge new markets out of thin air.

    ... but getting back on subject, I agree, that sounds like a really useful gadget that I would like myself. :^)
  • by wfolta (603698) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @09:27PM (#33235326)

    After all as a tool the iPad is rather expensive since there are few tasks a tablet is truly well suited for. Most tasks, there are other devices that do a better job, other devices people usually own.

    Typical checkbox thinking. For reading through the 1,000+ technical papers I have in Papers, plus the dozen books I have in PDF, browsing the web, handling most email, getting most of my news, looking at photos, anything to do with maps and directions, etc, etc, etc, the iPad wins hands-down. A tablet is a radically different form factor, IF it is properly designed and not just a port of a desktop OS and apps to a keyboardless netbook. And it is WAY nicer to interface with for those and more tasks, and is WAY easier to share and collaborate with than the welded-together-hence-restricted-in-aspect laptop or netbook alternative.

    Call it "fashion" if you want. Makes me wonder if you wear garbage bags instead of clothes -- cheaper, stain-proof, water-proof -- and drive the butt-ugliest and most inconveniently-designed car -- cheaper, works just fine, more room for customization -- you can find, and live in a shipping container in back of the Piggly Wiggly, etc. No "fashion premium" for you, no sir.

  • by indiechild (541156) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @09:32PM (#33235354)

    Apple is pretty much one of the only tech companies that successfully integrates technology with the liberal arts. Their success isn't driven by marketing or "fashion" as you put it. They make products which cater for the average consumer, not the hardcore techheads which most other tech companies seem to make products for. This is why they sell so much.

    It's true that a lot of Apple products are seen as "cool", but I'd say this is a byproduct of their success at making great gadgets.

    A lot of clueless geeks on sites like Slashdot claim Apple's success is all due to their marketing and other such superficial nonsense, but even a cursory examination shows that this is far from true. Apple's marketing is fairly unremarkable for the most part. The difference is that their products work so well for the average consumer that they end up marketing themselves.

    If you look at most of Apple's "competitors", it's obvious why Apple is doing so well. Just about everyone else is making awful crappy products.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @09:40PM (#33235398)

    Not so much. Of the things you listed, only the technical papers and maybe the news are something a tablet is truly good at. Books are far better on a real eReader. The eInk stoff is no bullshit, it looks like real paper and is just so easy on the eyes, not to mention the month long battery life. E-mails have to be one of the WORST uses for a tablet I've heard of. Reason is unless you are a passive receiver of e-mails, you need to type a response and a real keyboard works tons better. Sure a tablet would work if that's all you had, but a computer works better.

    That's the thing, I'm not saying they are worthless. I am saying they have limited cases where they are the best device. Fine, but that also means they need to be less expensive. Paying a large premium for a specialty device isn't something most will do... Unless fashion is involved.

    Also sounds like I struck a nerve there with the personal attacks on the straw man you presume to be my buying habits. No, I wear normal clothes, I'm a t-shirt and shorts man, but I buy my t-shirts at Target, not Ed Hardy. Perhaps I'm not so fashionable, but then I spend $5-10 per shirt instead of $50-100. My car is an Audi A4... From 1996. It is an older car, and I got is used, but it works well to transport me and that's the important thing. May not be new and flashy, but I don't need it.

    If you deeply care about how your clothes and car look, well then you are in to fashion. That's fine, but recognize it for what it is. I do not care for people who try and act as though they buy expensive, showy, brand name cloths for any reason other than fashion. If you are in to being fashionable, fine, but I won't hear any shit from you because I'm not.

  • Re:so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Omestes (471991) <omestes@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday August 12, 2010 @09:44PM (#33235420) Homepage Journal

    Yes, like a history of thoughtful design and a slew of devices that work much better than their competitors for normal usage patterns, despite having fewer "and the kitchen sink" features.

    Your veering a bit into the fan-boy neighborhood there. Apple has had its share of failures, and often falls below expectations. You also ignore the fact that at least some (I'd say most, but its arguable) of the people who purchase Apple products don't do so for logical reason, and also, for some of these people, the device doesn't do what they may want, or do it in the best way, they cater their wants to their device.

    Its like saying that Windows must be the greatest OS ever, since more people use it. Windows is 90% greater than any OS Apple has put out at least.

    See the flaw?

    A lot of Apple's designs are about as flawed as they can be. May I mention the cliche example of leaving off a mouse button for years? The "mighty mouse" might also be considered a design flaw in-itself. Selling every computer without enough RAM might also be a flaw (and, in the early-mid 2000's charging $400 to upgrade your ram...).

    Also... WTF is a normal usage pattern? I'm typing this on a Window 7 computer, it works fine with my normal usage patterns. Earlier this morning I was doing work on my Linux notebook, it worked fine with my normal usage patterns. Tonight I'll be watching some movies on my Mac, which also works fine with my normal usage patterns (less fine, since I did relegate to a media box, I suppose). Currently I have a Barnes & Nobel Nook as an ebook reader, which is far superior to my normal usage patterns than an iPad would ever be. I'm also buying an Android phone in the near future, which is better for my normal usage patterns than Apple's walled, puritanical, garden.

    I do admit that the iPod is a damn good product though (the HDD versions, the rest don't have nearly enough storage). Though I suspect that is it didn't come out, or at least become as popular, the MP3 player market would be healthier and more advanced since less people would be trying to merely emulate the iPod,

    Often times, with most of the population, the optimal workflow is based off of what they haven't imagined, and the limitations of their hardware and software,

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday August 12, 2010 @09:54PM (#33235462) Homepage

    The iPod was not the first MP3 player or anything. What it was is a fashion accessory.

    I see people writing that now and then, and it's become clear that this sort of sentiment is disguised bitterness. It's nowhere near sufficient to explain what happened.

    No, the iPod was not the first MP3, but it was the first one that that most people could stand to use. Seriously. I'm a tech person. I use Linux. I'm not trendy, and I don't have any interest in being trendy. But if I'm going to own an MP3 player, I want one that doesn't have a terrible design, and for some reason Apple seems to be the only tech company interested in solving their customer's problems.

    Just for example, I had an iPhone for a couple years and liked it alright, but had some frustrations. I was talking to some pro-Android/anti-Apple people in various places (including on Slashdot), and I had become convinced that Android had gotten to be a good, stable, worthwhile phone OS. So I happily made the switch. I bought an HTC Incredible.

    At first I was really happy and impressed. If it were a matter of fashion and image, I liked what it said about me that I no longer had an iPhone. But then so many damned thing just didn't work right. The audio player was crap. The picture viewer was ok, but sub-par. It would randomly crash and reboot itself. Battery life was not what it should be-- I could never go two days straight without charging. The available apps were pretty crappy. The notifications were excessive, and the included tones were grating. Over the course of a couple months, I began remembering why it was that I always hated cell phones. I found myself swearing at it under my breath. I started imagine that the phone was an object with free will, hellbent on frustrating me.

    I managed to wriggle out of my contract and went back to AT&T (which I hate) and got an iPhone again. I'm not like "Oh wow, the iPhone is super-cool and I'm awesome for having one." It's more like I forget that I own an iPhone, and I forget why I hate cell phones, and I just use it.

    And my story and perspective are not remotely unique. This is exactly why Apple has developed a following.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:04PM (#33235504) Journal
    If you really think the only reason people buy Apple's products (like your post implies) is because of fashion, you're missing a large chunk of the picture. Each Apple device has a carefully chosen niche in mind, and it fills that niche as well as possible.

    The iPad is an entertainment device. That's the target market, people who want to be entertained, and it does the job well. Have you ever picked one up? Just holding it in your hands makes you feel entertained, before you even do anything. That's why it sells.

    The iPod was successful because it had an easy to use interface (you might even say a fun to use interface. The wheel with no moving parts was quite cool). It was easy to get the songs on the device, and it was easy to use the device. You are enough of a techie that this sort of thing is not so important, but for their target audience, nothing worked better, and people were willing to pay for it.
  • Re:so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kurokame (1764228) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:05PM (#33235512)

    Not so much, no. We're talking computers now, not fashion accessories.

    Also, relative ease of development will pretty inevitably bite Apple on the ass. It's a giant weak spot on the iPhone, and it's even worse on a device which is moving closer to traditional computing tasks. Given that the PADD space is still relatively unexplored, lack of ability to exploit that unexplored space could conceivably make it be an even larger vulnerability.

    Besides, there's an old saying in business. It's much easier to carve a slice off an existing market than it is to create a new one. Apple managed to get slate-type tablets over the threshold after about a decade of Microsoft & others trying. But now the can of worms is open and it's anyone's game.

    Even if you want to go back to portable media players - which are NOT directly analogous - how many of those sold are actually non-Apple devices? Total? Don't just look at Zune. Yeah, Apple is still raking in the cash there...but a lot of other companies have made tidy profits as well. Never bet on maintaining a monopoly, it won't happen. Maybe you can keep most of it...but sooner or later someone else will manage to take a cut of their own.

    Nor would I exactly discount Microsoft. Ever hear of a little latecomer called the Xbox? Besides which, MSR has been doing HCI work in this space for ages now, they simply haven't been pushing much of it into Windows proper because supporting hardware is relatively uncommon thus unprofitable to specialize in. What happens if slate-like devices become common? Do you really think that one of the giants of software won't manage to carve off a piece if they want one?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:16PM (#33235562)

    The best thing about this post is that it utterly fails to explain how Apple products become fashionable. Was it all a coincidence? Is it fashionable because Apple's products are high quality? High quality products by all rights certainly should be fashionable!

    Just because something is fashionable doesn't also mean that it is bad. Somehow on Slashdot, "fashionable" is an effective way to disparage a person or product without justification. You could almost say it's a fashionable way to disparage something on Slashdot.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:23PM (#33235592)

    It's time for computer companies to admit they have no idea who their customer is, or what their customer wants. Most computer products try to be everything to everyone and end up disappointing all.

    The secret to Apple's success is simplicity - identifying the smallest list of features that their customer base will find useful. Sure this makes some people unhappy, but the vast majority of their customers are happy with the feature set, and delighted by the ease of use that results from a device that doesn't try to do everything.

    I used to want my computing devices to do everything. This usually resulted in building computers that could heat an entire house or carrying a laptop bag that weighed 50 lbs. Since converting my life to Apple's products (AppleTV, Mac Mini server, iMac, iPhones, iPods and iPads) I've been happier.

    I was hesitant to get an iPad fearing that it's limited feature set would relegate it to a dust-collector in my technology scrap pile. I couldn't have been more wrong. On a recent weekend in Las Vegas, I didn't even bring my laptop bag. I was able to get remote access to my entire work network, read books and magazines, watch movies, and listen to music. Battery life was fantastic and I never once wished that I brought my laptop bag the entire weekend.

    It was damn cool to walk on the plane with only an iPad and a pair of headphones in tow.

    I'm not saying Apple's way is the only right way. There may be another company out there that figures their customers out as well as Apple has, but for now, I haven't seen it.

    -ted

  • by Karlt1 (231423) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:35PM (#33235632)

    Do you remember the history of the PC?

    Apple was the first major player in this market. Sure, there were a few other companies that achieved some level of success, but Apple was by far the first to be really successful with their Apple II. They dominated the last few years of the 1970s, and into the 1980s.

    Then IBM released their PC, which itself was followed by various PC clones. By the late 1980s, Apple was nearly destroyed. They went from the top of the industry to near the bottom, in around a decade.

    It will likely happen again. Apple will again hit rock bottom, as they did the first time around. Their business model of selling expensive devices to hipsters (basically the same model they used in the 1970s and 1980s) results in a quick adoption rate among those with money to burn, but soon market forces bring in competitors who appeal to the other 98% of the population. Apple will again be relegated to the 2% marketshare they "enjoyed" in the PC market for so many years.

    How have all of those "iPod Killers" fared over the last decade?

  • Re:Do not want. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by N0Man74 (1620447) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:46PM (#33235676)

    Why isn't the iPad designed for creating things, exactly? Who started this myth?

    Apple?

    I've always gotten the impression that they didn't "design" it for anything in particular, but rather just gave it some features, form factor, and their trendy phone OS, and hoped it would find a niche in the trendy gadgets market. It's worked pretty well for them.

    Was it not true that initially there was much head-scratching, trying to figure out what role the IPod was supposed to fill? No matter what market (that it's form and function would suggest) was considered, it seemed the IPad came up lacking in every comparison, except in the trendy effect. From what I've seen, it was designed to be a cool gadget that hopefully users would figure out how to do something useful with, despite the (often intentional) limitations.

    That isn't to say that there isn't a market for trendy gadgets, because obviously there is. That also isn't to say that people haven't managed to use it for creating things, they have.

    However to suggest it was "designed" for creating, rather than consuming (within their walled garden), seems quite a stretch. I don't even recall Apple pitching that.

    I'm glad to see more competition in this market place. I'm not too fond of the IPad, but more competition ultimately increases the likelihood of consumers getting products in general, whether they are from Apple or a competitor. There's a lot that the competition can learn from Apple, and I believe there will be a lot that Apple can learn from the competition as well.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:20PM (#33235798)

    The iPod was not the first MP3 player or anything. What it was is a fashion accessory. It was, and still is, trendy to have one. Notice that the white earbuds because a status statement, to the point that 3rd party companies had to start making them. Etymotic said they'd never before had requests for white, but when the iPod came out people wanted higher quality earphones, but only if they were white.

    This is a bit of revisionist history. The first iPod offered a few things that their competitors did not. First of all it used FireWire and not USB 1.0 and it allowed you to use it as a portable HD. FireWire was the best in wired transfer for many years until USB2.0 became common place. For people like Peter Jackson, this meant transferring Lord of Rings edits easier.

    The second thing about the iPod was not so much the player but the software that came with it. I had a Diamond Rio PMP. To use it required 4 separate programs. A ripper, an encoder, an organizer, and a player. Diamond only offered an organizer/player but it had only basic functionality for either. iPod came with iTunes. I could do everything. For your average consumer, that was much simpler to use.

    Also most geeks here seem to dismiss the iTunes store. Maybe because DRM is evil in any form to most geeks. For Apple, the idea was so basic: If you make it ridiculously easy for an average person to buy music online, they are going to buy your MP3 player and a ton of music. To get the music companies to agree, DRM was going to have to be a necessary evil. Only when Apple became the #1 music seller did they have the clout to get the music companies to give up DRM. But by that time, the general public pretty much equated portable music to the iPod and music online to iTunes.

  • Re:so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:22PM (#33235808)

    That they stole off their competitors. OSX = BSD + Mach kernal. iPod = mp3 players before it. iPhone = touch screen Palm devices that have been around since the late 90's. iPad = Android tablets that have been around for quite some time. Some were released in September of last year in North America, and this doesn't consider the cheaper made Chinese ones.

    What you are describing is *features*, not *design*. I never said that Apple was the most innovative company that came up with all their ideas with no outside influence whatsoever. I said they have a history of thoughtful design: meaning, "they take the features they believe make sense given the market, they package them together to support those features well, and then they build an attractive and aesthetically pleasant "package" for those features."

    Design isn't simply "Feature X + Featurey Y + a pinch of Feature Z." It's about how the product works, feels, looks, and how the user interacts with it. If Mac OS X existed with all the features before Apple came along, why are they the only ones who've been able to turn it into a commercially viable desktop? If MP3 players had all the features that ipods had before Apple entered the market, why do they more or less own that market? If the iphone is just a recycled touch screen palm pilot, why did Palm pretty much have to offer itself up as a fire sale bargain while Apple is printing money with the same device? If Android tablets are functionally equivalent to iPads, why aren't they eating the iPad's lunch, given that they had first mover advantage?

    What your argument fails to account for is that Apple *is* adding something to the package of features you claim already existed. If they were not, they would not own the market (in the case of MP3 players), or be largely setting the direction in markets they've recently entered (smart phones, tablet computers) - take a look at the Android phone units before the iPhone was released, and try to tell me that the Android smartphone manufacturers aren't being heavily influenced by Apple's designs.

    iPhone never was able to beat Blackberry and has now been taken over by Android.

    Yes, I'm amazed at how a single "current" phone model, available in ~25 countries (I believe, unless they've released in a bunch more countries in the past 2 weeks) at present (and at least in the US, and perhaps other countries, available only on a single carrier) gets beaten by a whole category of phones sold by just about every carrier around the world. I'm shocked at these sales results. Never mind that just about every single recent android smartphone has looked pretty much like an iPhone, and has primarily differentiated itself based on... what? "not being an iphone"? "being available on a carrier that's not ATT"? "A few extra ghz on a processor, or mb of ram and storage?" Oh wait, the Android Marketplace? Oh no that's right - that you don't HAVE to use the Android Marketplace if you don't want to. This is huge, wait 'till the people hear about it!

  • Re:so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mjwx (966435) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:23PM (#33235818)

    I'm a iPhone/iPad owner and developer. I have toyed around with Android, and although competitive in the smartphone market, it honestly is no iPhone alternative

    I'll translate:

    "I've made my bed with Apple. I've looked at an Andriod phone, once on the internet and whilst I pay some random tribute to make me seem like I'm not a fanboy but I'll praise Apple immediately after because my ego will never permit me to conceive that anything could ever be better".

    You're judgement is somewhat clouded, but you have it half right. Android will not destroy the Iphone, ultimately Apple will do that. Android's competition is not Apple, it's Blackberry. Apple have never understood the key to success, get the enterprise and you get the world. RIM and MS took this approach and look where they got, large segments of the markets that Apple have been powerless to even encroach upon.

    At this point I'd say there are 3 companies that can honestly compete with Apple and none seem to be interested in doing so:

    See my above statement. Apple is a non-competitor to Sony, MS and Nintendo. So much of a non competitor it's not even worth mentioning.

    Mobile gaming is nothing in the west. It's something in Asia (Japan and China specifically) but they are not open markets and Apple has never been able to penetrate a contested market. The iGaming fad will be over in a year or so. As soon as enough Andorid, Symbian and Meego phones support Flash 10 a copy of a flash game will no longer sell for US$5.99.

  • Re:Do not want. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:32PM (#33235848)

    When you say "create things"... what do you mean?

    Because all of the evidence shows that at least for some applications (some video applications, music - mixers, synthesizer-style instruments - and art/sketching/drawing), it's just as capable as a desktop system with a 27" screen, keyboard, mouse, quad-core processors, and 16gb of ram, and in fact, it may even be a more natural interface than the tradition mouse & keyboard for some of these applications.

    This is the puzzling thing - conventional wisdom seems to have decided that "creating anything" with an ipad is impossible, or even too difficult to be worth it. In point of fact, it's quite suitable for both consumption and creation - unless you define "creation" so narrowly as to be strictly text-entry into a word processing program.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Friday August 13, 2010 @12:06AM (#33235966) Homepage

    I'm not much of an Apple fanboi, but my observation is that even after 3 years of iPhone, the only semi-contender is Android. Every other imitator has been a half-assed Symbian piece of crap with the typical 4-color graphics and a processor that can barely edge out the 8086.

    Sure, a shit ton of idiotic Taiwanese imitations will flood the market, and they will all have the same fundamental shortcoming: poor quality software and no 3rd party apps. Do you really expect app developers to target all these obscure, unsupported, docs-written-in-mandarin slabs of fail ?

    It's quite simple: there is room for two platforms. There's Mac, and there's PC. iPhone vs Android. iPad vs ??? GooglePad ? Realistically that's the kind of clout it would take to launch a true competitor.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday August 13, 2010 @12:09AM (#33235986)

    There's no reason they need to be so built up that they cost $500. I can build a relatively high-end gaming computer for that much. There's no reason a pad should cost that much.

    Form factor and design matters. Way back in the day when watches were the most technical thing people owned, the best and most expensive watches were also the thinnest. The reason was it took skill to make something work in a small package. These days that equates to money. The smaller you make something while retaining the core functionality, the more it will cost you.

    However there are key differences between your computer and an iPad. In your desktop or laptop, you don't have a touch screen. It isn't instant-on. It can't sense direction or rotation. And most likely it is probably very warm in your lap. It won't be made with brushed aluminum. Also it won't last 10 hrs active or 1 week in standby mode. Other than these differences, your computer is the same as an iPad. Every time I hear complaints about an iPad is too expensive, I'd like to make a bet with that person. If I give you $500 could you make an iPad? If you can't you owe me double. From what I know about machining, the aluminum frame is gonna cost you a large size of that.

  • Re:so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vancorps (746090) on Friday August 13, 2010 @12:26AM (#33236058)

    I keep hearing this stuff and have wondered if people have actually used Vista or 7 tablet edition or more to the point the tablet PCs. They run Linux just fine too and with the netbook edition of Ubuntu are quite friendly as touch screens. I use them all the time and have not found them lacking. Of course in most of those tablet PCs there is also a keyboard for when you're doing lots of data entry. So you get all the benefits of the iPad and none of the drawbacks. The tablets we use at work are just as light albeit a little thicker.

    When it comes to tablets the OS doesn't matter, why people think the iPhone and iPad are so special because they have an OS built for touch is beyond me as people never play with the OS on either device, or at least very rarely. They play with the applications, the dialer is just an app. A purpose built Linux distro is just as efficient and doesn't have any of the limitations. Combine that with touch friendly apps and honestly there are plenty especially since you can emulate Android and use those apps too. Web browsing is a hell of a lot better, then you get adblock, spell check, flash, java. Whatever you want!

  • Re:so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 13, 2010 @12:44AM (#33236114)

    >Nor would I exactly discount Microsoft. Ever hear of a little latecomer called the Xbox?

    Yes, it's a money loser for the company which produces it.

    >Do you really think that one of the giants of software won't manage to carve off a piece if they want one?

    Well, let's see....
    They wanted a part of the digital music player market, they released the Zune... HUGE failure.
    They wanted a piece of the PDA and later, smart-phone OS market... Windows CE -> Windows Mobile ... relatively little consumer interest
    They wanted a piece of the SmartPhone hardware market... so they bought SideKick... and now it's mostly dead. No new models lately, no new OS based on the SideKick OS, and of course releasing all of the customer data by accident.
    Then they released the Kin, which could rightfully be called the "Zune II".
    Microsoft has tried again and again with Set-Top boxes, and... yeah.
    Microsoft was pushing their "Origami" project for palmtops/netbooks, and... yeah.
    Even more telling, MS has been pushing Tablet PCs for a very long time, and doing a shitty job of it.

    The fact is, they don't "get it", and they probably never will. Windows is strong on the desktop because it has momentum, and applications. If you try to force a desktop OS into random devices. They think they have the Windows DNA, so they should leverage it wherever possible, which is a big problem. They have a hammer, so everything becomes a nail.

    I'll give you an Example. I had this cute little "premium netbook" called a Sony Type P (look it up). The thing was faster than 1GHz and had 2GB of ram. That puts it at close to the spec of my MacBook air, and well above the iPad and similar. But the thing came with VISTA... which made it DIRT slow. Not only was it slow, but it there was no special version like "Windows for Netbooks" or something, no, it tried to run all sorts of services in the background like DFS, etc., which are likely never to be used on a netbook. Then there were other problems, which indicate the practical limitations of Windows. For example, the screen was small and very high res - which would be fine, except that Windows application are very resolution independent. When you get a higher res. screen, everything shrinks. When you have a high-res small screen, you have to squint to read anything. There are two ways around this. One is you lower the resolution. At that point, you are wasting your screen and making everything blocky. Another is that you increase the font size. When you do that, many applications (including parts of Windows) will break. They assume a certain size dialog will fit all their text, and when it doesn't (because you increased the font size)... it just gets cut off.

    That's just one example of many, but the point is, Windows isn't designed for that kind of hardware, and shoe-horning it in doesn't help anyone. You buy something, and it's not usable. Worse yet, the applications aren't designed for that kind of hardware either. I'm not even singling out Windows here, Linux is the same - except that Android and a few other distributions are customized enough to be truly adapted to mobile platforms. Windows 7, I'm sorry, it isn't, and it probably never will be. For example, adding some half-assed touch-screen support in the form of a few gestures and mouse emulation does not a touch interface make. There should be a totally separate mode for tough input. The problem is that then applications would have to support it, and Microsoft doesn't want to actually have to fight iOS and Android for mindshare, which is why they won't do anything drastic, and they won't succeed.

  • Re:Useless review (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Friday August 13, 2010 @12:48AM (#33236138)

    Judging by what happened to most of the iPod killers and what Microsoft is looking likely to do I'd say he'll be sleeping soundly. I'd be more worried about Android based tablets, ChromeOS on the other hand is IMHO a joke.

    The problem with most iPod/iPhone killers is that by taking the title or having someone in the media do it, people who look at your device will also know what to compare it to. However, if every potential customer of these 32 (?) other devices are told the iPad is essentially the standard, each one has a good chance of deciding for an iPad at the end of the day. OTOH, every person looking at an iPad likely only knows of that device and compares it on its own merits, and even if they knew of a competitor, it's a pie sliced up in 32 pieces. The least likely scenario is that a person looks at multiple devices, none of them Apple - perhaps in the geek segment but not in the wider consumer circles.

    That's not to say Apple doesn't have other things going for it, besides the math here. Perhaps, in years, the rise of iOS will be seen as more important to Apple than OS X. Google and Apple are the only major players in this OS field. Even Amazon is still clinging to the concept of an overall dumb device that does only one function, more or less.

  • Re:so... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tharsman (1364603) on Friday August 13, 2010 @01:35AM (#33236284)

    I keep hearing this stuff and have wondered if people have actually used Vista or 7 tablet edition or more to the point the tablet PCs.

    I have to turn the question back at you. I personally am owner of a Toshiba tablet PC. I have used all windows OS upgrades in it since XP Tablet Edition (vista and 7.)

    Although I love my Tablet for some stuff, it's just not flexible to really be "on the go". It's not a device I can carry turned on. I need to, at best, put it on sleep mode and carry on a laptop case. An iPad is a thin device that is always on, always ready to be pulled out and unlocked.

    Usability is another big one. Although I love my stylus for drawing and coloring (right now that's the main use I give my tablet, at least until I can buy a Cintiq) even if I happen to have my tablet ready to use, navigating menus with the stylus is clumsy and slow. For a tablet device to be successful it needs to follow a different set of GUI design rules, specifically: no pop-down menu trees.

    Tablets COULD evolve via dedicated tablet software, but sharing an OS makes it hard to separate the software apart. Even if it's the same underlying OS (iOS is really just another build of OSX, with special features) the entire navigation system must be streamlined and require applications to be designed for the device itself so the device can feel as a viable alternative to pulling out a book, notepad or newspaper from your briefcase.

    Although you can get away with making an Android tablet, that will just get you half the way there (admittedly an important half way.) You wont get the mass appeal without an extremely easy to access marketplace and gimmicky interface (reasons why I note the PS3/Wii/XBox platforms to be ideal, they have the two necessary corners covered, they just need to make them at minimum as open as Apple's App Store.)

    Anyways, I love my tablet and will miss it once I'm done with it (poor thing is getting old) but they are not aimed at the same uses as the iPad or even iPhone or iPod Touch (lately i taken to call that one iPad Nano.)

  • by master_p (608214) on Friday August 13, 2010 @01:57AM (#33236360)

    (Disclaimer: I am not an Apple fan, I don't have a Mac or iPhone or iPad or iPod; I have programmed on Macs though and I've seen projects for the iPad and the iPhone)

    I know only one company that makes computer products for the average consumer, and that is Apple. It's strange, but there is no other company that is in the same category as Apple. All other companies are in a different segment of the computer market, and they occasionally see what Apple does and want a piece of the pie, but they have no idea how to achieve it. Microsoft is in the operating system/office/development/tools/video game market; Google is in the internet apps market; Linux vendors are mostly in the server market; Sony and Nintendo is in the video game market. None of the markets mentioned above has to do 100% with the market Apple is into. There are overlaps between what the others do and what Apple does, but they are different markets.

    Apple caught everyone by surprise when they released the iPhone. Did the consumers want an easy to use phone with a multimedia/internet flavor around it? you bet. But no other company has really understood that, because they were busy hyping themselves and their products. Now Apple caught everyone by surprise for a second time! and the others have still not learned the lesson, i.e. that they have no idea about what the consumer really wants. The reviewed tablets of this topic is testament to that: they are either vaporware or inferior to iPad, and I just don't see any iPad alternatives in the future.

    Which companies could offer Apple some competition?

    Microsoft could not do it because they are a geek programmers' company, they don't have the consumer product mentality in sufficient amounts; their product line is testament to that.

    Nintendo knows how to make game consoles, but I really doubt they can do anything else; even internet browsing on their consoles is always a 2nd rate feature for them.

    Google doesn't really have the resources to do it, because consumer level products require different operating systems and user interfaces, something that Google doesn't seem to be able to do. There is a lot of fine open source code out there for desktop systems, but pads and phones require a different approach.

    Sony is a great big mystery, because they are into mass-market electronic products for many decades, but they have totally missed the point for the last decade.

    Smaller companies have some interesting approaches but they always fail to produce a product which is so polished like Apple's products.

    Where does that leave us? there is Apple and then there are all the rest companies. This means that if there is not a good tablet out there from another company in the next year, I'll give in and buy an iPad instead. How long can we wait for an alternative anyway?

  • Re:Do not want. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday August 13, 2010 @02:43AM (#33236482) Journal

    Perhaps - the point is that the iPad *can* be used for more "creation" than simply "typing stuff into a text editor." The "it's for consumption only" meme is a little ridiculous because it assumes that "creation" requires a keyboard, and in some cases, that's simply not true.

    It doesn't have to be a keyboard, but you need some better mode of input than jabbing at it with your fingers. For example, a tablet with a stylus and decent handwriting recognition is absolutely great for taking notes with. What I lose in having to write longhand (I'm a semi-decent typist), I gain in having something I can hold in one hand and write on whether standing, sitting or lying on the sofa. Saying that the iPad is more about consumption is fair, but the same is not true of tablets in general. If you're writing a novel, you're going to want a keyboard, desk and chair. If you want to scrawl down notes, quick diagrams or annotate a PDF, then a tablet with a stylus can be excellent.

  • Re:so... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sunspot42 (455706) on Friday August 13, 2010 @03:17AM (#33236558)

    Um, you do realize it was the record labels that made Apple implement that convoluted synch process involving iTunes, right? They didn't want portable music players being used as sneakernets for piracy.

    (Like you're apparently doing, I might add. So, maybe they had a point.)

    Apple did more for legitimizing online music and portable mp3 players than any other entity in the industry, hands down. If they hadn't laid the groundwork, the labels would still be suing the crap out of anyone who tried to sell music - let alone DRM-free music - online. And they'd probably still be attacking portable mp3 players as well.

  • Re:History repeats (Score:3, Insightful)

    by steve_bryan (2671) on Friday August 13, 2010 @03:30AM (#33236578)

    All products have a measurable rate of return. The previous three iPhone models had measured rates of return. The rate of return of iPhone 4 was significantly less than the rate of return of the previous model iPhone 3GS.

    If the antenna design of the iPhone 4 was the disaster as was often portrayed, the sales were off the charts and so few were being returned, how could these facts be reconciled? It seems to be the case of the dog that didn't bark. A simple explanation is that most of the noise was not from dissatisfied owners of the product but rather from the professionally disgruntled. In many (most?) cases people who loudly proclaim they never have and never will buy a product from Apple.

    I think a much better case could be made that the main failing in this product is Apple's inability to ramp up production enough to meet the demand that exists.

  • Re:Do not want. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by imakemusic (1164993) on Friday August 13, 2010 @03:39AM (#33236602)

    So you don't want a tablet. That's allowed but it doesn't mean they are useless or that everyone else feels the same way you do. I'm not blown away by the iPad but if this drives down the price for tablets that I can use for drawing and multi-touch music making then I'm all for it.

  • Re:so... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 13, 2010 @04:00AM (#33236666)

    At this point I'd say there are 3 companies that can honestly compete with Apple and none seem to be interested in doing so:

    • Sony, making a tablet driven by the same OS that powers the PS3
    • Nintendo, making a tablet driven by the same OS that powers the Wii
    • Microsoft, but not with Windows Mobile or any windows based product, instead with the XBox version of their OS. XBox's newest dashboard is even PERFECT to compete with both, the iPhone and iPad if used properly.

    You're confusing the UI with the OS. The look and feel of the front-end is a completely separate thing from the underlying OS. Yes, the Android UI needs work to bring it up to spec on a tablet, but the underlying Android OS would still be a very good choice for anyone thinking of building one. None of the other platforms you mentioned even supports a touch interface at the moment, let alone all the other APIs and hardware layers you'd need, so I suspect they'd be all be a very poor choice for a tablet OS.

    In any case you say that none seem interested, but I have heard rumours of a playstation tablet... but the rumour says it'll be an Android device. Just rumours so far, but it could happen. I very much doubt it for the Wii or Xbox OSs, though -- Nintendo just aren't in that market, and MS have a bunch of other OSs they could use which would be fit a tablet device better than the Xbox OS.

  • Re:so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LS (57954) on Friday August 13, 2010 @06:08AM (#33237156) Homepage

    You lose all credibility when you say Android is not an alternative but PS3, Wii, and XBox are without giving any specific reasons except "online stores", a "dashboard", and "not designed on desktop principles". Android has all of these, and was actually designed with hand-held touch-screens in mind, unlike those other three. In addition it mirrors a lot of the functionality of iOS. Have you actually tried it? Can you give any real reasons why it's not an alternative for the tablet market?

    LS

  • Re:Useless review (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mdwh2 (535323) on Friday August 13, 2010 @08:30AM (#33238164) Journal

    Yes, exactly. The sad thing is though that the media are now giving this title to Apple long before they've earned it.

    For the Ipod, sure, it's the market leader. But the Iphone? No, it isn't - yet every phone company now has to be covered with "Can they beat the Iphone?" It's particularly hilarious to see when people do this for Nokia, who sell vastly more than Apple. It's not uncommon for Iphone defenders to say "Have you actually used an Iphone" - but I'd argue that it's far more common that non-Iphone users have at least considered the Iphone, whilst many Iphone buyers seem oblivious that anything else exists, thanks to the media coverage.

    Then there's the Ipad - here, the overwhelming media coverage started before the Ipad was even released - or in fact, actually announced. So now instead of using the perfectly good word "tablet", every device has to be branded an "Ipad competitor", granting free advertising to Apple long before they've earned such coverage.

    Even for the Ipod though, is it fair? We don't see every mention of the Mac being labelled with "Can this beat the PC?"

    Google and Apple are the only major players in this OS field.

    We shouldn't forget netbooks, which still compete in a similar portable space - you can get touch netbooks, and basically a tablet is a netbook without a physical keyboard (we don't separate the phone market by whether they have a touchscreen and/or physical keyboard), and it's likely that they will compete, with many people considering one or the other.

    And Windows is doing very well there - Apple meanwhile have zero presence. In fact, I'd go onto say that it's the netbook that finally gave us the "portable PC" - something that had failed after years of attempts with various portable devices. I'd say the success is down to being able to run a full OS like Linux or Windows, instead of things like Windows CE. ASUS are the ones who revolutionised mobile computing, but instead now all we hear about is the Islate/Ipad/etc, a keyboard-less device that came years later, runs a cut down OS designed for phones rather than a full OS, and so far has evidently failed to live up to the hype.

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