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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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  • damn.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sejanus (18670) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:01PM (#33234500) Homepage

    What will I do with 32 tablets in the house?

  • 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.

    • 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: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: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.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      And the ones that don't have a question mark have an "Engaget reviewed it and wasn't impressed."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sortius_nod (1080919)

      I was holding out for an Android device, but realised that almost all of them are Android 1.6. Why would I want a device with an ancient (comparatively) OS. It's usually a sign the manufacturer isn't going to update the device so rooting and custom firmware. This is what pushed me to an iPad. Sure, they are more expensive and locked down, but at least I know it'll be updated for at least 2 years.

      Add to this that most of the reviews around seem to give the Androids a bit of a slamming - poor build quality, b

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Vancorps (746090)

        Of course with the Archos you can install Ubuntu and get rid of the buggy software. There aren't even that many necessary tweaks. I was looking into just that. [ossramblings.com] Once you replace the slowass hdd with a half decent SSD you get better battery life and you get a real snappy machine, must snappier than the iPad.

        I've been looking at all sorts of options specifically for controlling home automation systems. I hate the iPad and the lack of options. Wallmounting them isn't too friendly either but that trait is share

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

          by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday August 13, 2010 @02:47AM (#33236498) Journal

          You would really want to deal with all that BS and headaches? On the page you linked to it says that plugging in a keyboard will cause Xorg to crash, the micro touchpad AND the left buttons don't work, no 3D acceleration, it just seems like a really bad hack to me and a whole lot of bullshit to go through simply to have a half crippled device at the end.

          While I've always respected the FOSS "run it on anything" philosophy, having so many devices not working and functioning incorrectly sounds less like a new OS and more like a broken one. I mean if all you cared about was speed you could probably jam Win98 on there and be just as fast and just as broken. Why would you want to spend the money on a new device just to cripple it with software that doesn't run correctly?

  • 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:so... (Score:5, Insightful)

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

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

       

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tharsman (1364603)

        Very likely.

        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, not for my business nor for my confort and am not confident of it's potential for a tablet without some huge facelift and heavy hardware requirements.

        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 t
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mjwx (966435)

          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

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Tharsman (1364603)

            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".

            I think the shoe is in the other foot. Both my brothers happen to have android phones (because neither can tolerate ATT, younger one almost cried when he had to give up his iPhone.) Truth is that Android feels more like a Windows Mobile killer than an iPhone competitor.

            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.

            Really, I think you definitively are very biased... http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2010/08/09/daily32.html [bizjournals.com]

            Mobile gaming is nothing in the west. It's something in Asia (Japan and China specifically)

            That's funny. I guess then that the fact that the combined software sales of DS and PSP software sales in America outselling

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Vancorps (746090)

          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 lig

          • 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.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LS (57954)

          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kurokame (1764228)

        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

        • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nerdfest (867930)
      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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Americano (920576)

        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.

        • Re:so... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by painandgreed (692585) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:55PM (#33235122)

          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.

          Yes, exactly. I don't think many of the people who use the term "marketing" really understand what it means. It's not just making things pretty and paying for a good advertising campaign which I think most people use it to mean. Marketing begins with determining what the market actually wants. Then determining how to sell it in that market. It's all based on customer satisfaction. People use "marketing" like some sort of pejorative, but in reality, there is no secret to marketing but making the customer happy by giving them a product they are happy with and continue to enjoy. Apple has done this. They do this to the point that people wonder why they would ever want their product at first glance ("No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."), but once they get ahold of it they like it, tell their friends, their friends buy them, and then when they need another product they trust the company to provide a similarly satisfactory product (at which point we are no longer talking about marketing but branding, which is a different rant).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Omestes (471991)

          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 de

    • Well, those "tablets" were pretty limited. they were just laptops with a different screen, sometimes one that rotated, the touch features generally required a stylus and weren't very useful...

      I wonder about security vulnerabilities in Windows (whatever) running on iPad like devices. Are these devices going to run spyware/virus/adware/malware/etc. protection all the time?
    • 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.
  • by Zobeid (314469) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:14PM (#33234564)

    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?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stan Vassilev (939229)

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by couchslug (175151)

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 lat

  • 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.
  • ...run the same programs on any of these tablets? Port some libre software from one to another without paying extra? Release libre software for these tablets?

    If they are like the iPad, I guess not...
  • Since when does more than 5 months count as a "few"?

  • by hedgemage (934558) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:29PM (#33234666)
    I want a good all-in-one reader. PDFs, CBR/CBZ files, Word or Open Office documents... etc. Sure, throw in a media player, but I really just want a book replacement. Most of the ones on the market are limited in scope and frankly, TOO SMALL. Make the screen a standard paper size, make it able to read all kinds of formats, and I will be a happy, happy man.

    Oh, and make it cheap.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      If you're reading CBR/CBZ you'll want color too. If they could put out a reader that did what you stated and could do it in color I'd buy one today. I don't need a backlight draining the battery.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The iPad does PDF of course but it's little known that iOS also natively supports Office documents [tuaw.com] though you might have to download a (free) file viewer app. As to the comic formats CBR/CBZ there are already iPhone apps out there which you can install on the iPad that let you read them while waiting for Panelfly's upcoming iPad version [panelfly.com] of its excellent comic book reader.

  • 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.

    • 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 Belial6 (794905) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:53PM (#33234824)
        I'll tell you what makes Macs better. The UI. Everyone know that green plus buttons should make a windows smaller, and a red X should sometimes close a program, and sometimes only close the window, leaving the program still running. Most of all, everyone know that the most logical way to eject a disk from a drive is to throw it in the garbage can. Until Apples competitors can match Apple in at least these obviously superior UI elements, they have no hope of being compared to Apple in quality and ease of use.
        • Re:History repeats (Score:4, Informative)

          by DJRumpy (1345787) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @09:13PM (#33235236)

          Very few Mac programs 'close' when you click the 'X'. If you want to 'quit' a program, you either use the keyboard shortcut (Command-Q for every app on the Mac), or you click the app menu and select quit. It is consistent to such a degree that you will find the same options on every Mac program out there. In additional, there are almost no apps that 'quit' when you click the 'X'. The ones that do actually quit are limited to a few system utilities. The rest just stay resident in the background as needed. It makes launching them again much faster, and has no negative impact on performance since the memory management is so well done (Wired, Active, Inactive, and Free). The same is true for iOS4. It's all to common I will find 20 to 30 apps just sitting there in the background on my iPhone. They have no impact on performance, even when working with 512 MB.

          The UI probably doesn't make sense to you, because your were raised on Windows or Linux. The OS X UI however, makes sense to someone who's never sat in front of a computer. They click the plus symbol to maximize the window to fit the doc. Why would it instead fill the entire screen when the doc only takes a portion of that? Just as uninstalling a program is more intuitive to just drop it in the trash. I can't say how many times I would try to stop family members from deleting folders on a Windows box to try to uninstall an app.

          As to your comment about 'trashing' drives to eject them, they could just right click and select Eject, or click the 'eject' button in finder which shows up next to any media that can be ejected, or they could click Eject in Disk Utility. Additionally, they still support throwing it in the trash as well, although it's hardly the only way to eject a drive.

          Just because you've always done something a particular way doesn't make that way particularly good. If we always did things the same way, we'd probably all still be using command lines, mice would be eating your cheese, and icons would only be for music.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kostya (1146)

        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

      • 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:History repeats (Score:4, Interesting)

          by steveha (103154) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @09:20PM (#33235290) Homepage

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

          Well, I bought one, so I guess I'm qualified to comment.

          I bought mine mostly because I wanted to support the OLPC project and was intrigued by their device. The shining vision was of a rugged laptop with crazy long battery life and a unique screen that is visible in full sunlight. I knew the device would be a tad slow, but I have other computers to use for speed. And I wanted to try out that "view source" key: the idea was that the whole system would be free, open-source software written in Python, and kids would be able to hack their own computers and learn programming (and have fun doing it).

          The reality is that the touchpad on my OLPC just doesn't work right, and the device is glacially slow. I'm not even sure which key is the "view source" key for certain; there is no key with that text on it, and I don't grok whatever icon they used to flag it. And it turns out that most of the XO applications don't support it anyway. (Yet?)

          The magic and romance went out of the project when I realized that the OLPC management was clueless. They never had a solid plan for how they would make and ship as many laptops as they hoped, they let costs balloon out of control, and they managed to make a device that in some ways is the worst of all worlds: instead of an ARM chip they used an x86 chip (an AMD Geode) but the device is far too constrained to ever really run Windows, and did I mention that it is glacially slow. Instead of using an off-the-shelf window manager from 1998, which would have run reasonably fast, they wrote their own wacky environment "Sugar"; I understand their goals with Sugar, but kids are adaptable, and kids would pick up fvwm or whatever just fine, plus it's more important for the apps to have "view source" than the window manager. Then Negroponte announced that OLPC was going to get into bed with Microsoft, and half of the volunteers writing code for the OLPC instantly quit in disgust. Then OLPC announced that they were going to make a new clamshell tablet device with two full color touchscreens and a hinge for $75, and then they announced they weren't going to make it after all. Now they are going to make a tablet like an iPad for $75. Good on them if they pull it off, but I'm no longer paying attention.

          The best thing I can say about the OLPC is that it likely triggered the wave of netbooks that changed the world. I don't know for a fact that Acer looked at the OLPC and said "we can build something like that, less rugged but faster" but the timing is right.

          Take the best ideas from the OLPC (including the screen) and make a tablet. Use an ARM core for a CPU. Cut any feature that would make it exceed the target price; it's great if the thing can do WiFi but really kids could do a lot by swapping memory cards back and forth. Pre-load the thing with useful textbooks and perhaps a subset of Wikipedia. And hire industry experts to manage the manufacturing and distribution. That would be exciting.

          By the end of the year we should start seeing tablets and "smartbooks" with ARM chips, even the Tegra 2, and some of them will have the Pixel Qi screen. So we will be able to buy a device with crazy long battery life and a screen you can read in direct sunlight, and it won't be glacially slow.

          steveha

      • Re:History repeats (Score:4, Interesting)

        by PipsqueakOnAP133 (761720) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @08:11PM (#33234936)

        I haven't used an OLPC XO before but after watching http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwzCsOFxT-U [youtube.com] , I'm convinced that "being easy to use, being polished, and being better" in terms of usability DOES get you very far.

        In other words, watching the quick tour of OLPC XO's interface has given me the opinion that Sugar/Linux doesn't get the same attention because it is not easier to use nor polished. I mean, look at that, and look at an iPad.

        For starters, the iPad UI didn't need a bunch of chat bubbles to explain it. Am I really supposed to know off the top of my head what those icons or the circle means? Cuz there certainly isn't anything obvious sticking out at first glance. Like, what's the star trek communication badge icon do? And the shooting star? I'm taking a guess but this has tic-tac-toe installed?

        And I have to drag the mouse to the edge to activate the menu? That's discoverable.... but would be very annoying. (I have a friend who sets at least 3 corners on his mac to trigger Expose. When using his machine, it triggers all the time on accident and drives me nuts.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bky1701 (979071)
      "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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571)

      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 A

    • 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 sai

      • 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 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387)
        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
      • 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 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.

  • 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 ;).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 Appl

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tokerat (150341)

        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.

  • It is the quantity of the iPod killers that counts you know. I am not an apple fanboi but I think displacing the iPad is going to be a pretty difficult task.
  • 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?

  • Windows 7 tablets? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by steveha (103154) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @07:52PM (#33234812) Homepage

    I can't imagine any of the Windows 7 tablets being worth buying. Any x86 chip that can run Windows 7 will burn more battery life and dissipate more heat than an ARM chip. Do you want a heavy tablet (lots of batteries) or a tablet with super-short battery life? I don't. Do you want a tablet with a vent on one side that blows hot air out while you are using it? I don't.

    Of the various ARM chips, the exciting one is the Tegra 2. 8 cores: two ARM 9 cores at 1 GHz each, plus audio DSP, video encode and decode, graphics accelerator, an image processor and an ARM 7 core used for housekeeping. All with a typical heat dissipation of 500 milliWatts, or perhaps less. (I saw a YouTube video that claimed a Tegra 2 can decode 1080P video while dissipating only 350 Watts.)

    The iPad gets its long battery life and lack of a hot air vent from the A4 chip, which is an ARM core of some sort (IIRC an ARM 8) at 1 GHz. I believe the iPad also has a graphics accelerator. Presumably a Tegra 2 chip can smoke the iPad on performance, and it's already good enough.

    Also, Windows 7 was designed for a mouse. Will the Windows 7 tablets come with a stylus for precision pointing? Or will Microsoft make an all-new GUI environment just for tablets? I'd rather just have Android.

    So I'm waiting for a smartbook or tablet with a Tegra 2 and a Pixel Qi screen, running some sort of Linux (likely Android). I had hoped that devices like that would ship this summer but I guess they are delayed.

    steveha

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by fidget42 (538823)

      I saw a YouTube video that claimed a Tegra 2 can decode 1080P video while dissipating only 350 Watts...

      I really hope you missed a decimal point there.

  • Right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dissy (172727)

    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!

  • It's really sad to see how some manufacturers seem to honestly think that a Windows 7 tablet is going to work well, let alone be an "iPad killer" of any sort. Windows 7 is a great OS, but it's in no way suited for a touch UI and even if you collaborated with Microsoft to make a "for touch UI" Windows version, you would still have the problem of the entire Windows software ecosystem not conforming to the touch UI norms, so that basically won't help you at all. The only 2 potential competitors the iPad might

  • Business Success (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RegTooLate (1135209)
    The iPad and alike competitors should bet on business communication suites. One which has video conferencing, document presentation and sharing collaboration tools will be the most successful. I would like it if I could do an impromptu video conference meeting with anyone remotely as face to face interaction leads to better understanding and communication. Take the meeting collaboration space, have the pads chirp to each other forming a meeting share where they can present documents live and collaborate
  • 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 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.
    • 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.

  • 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 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 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?

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill

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