Tablets are new gadget craze to hit the market, they are light on weight and on pockets, while still taking full advantage of internet technologies and are substitutes to bulky laptops.
It started many years ago when Apple launched the first tablet in 1987 called Newton but it died by 1998, it was heavy and limited in features.Still Apple has been the leader in innovation and has been launching innovative products for as long as it has existed. In 2010, Apple came out with the iPad, which was at then considered an over glorified iphone.
?We are in a Post PC era and we need to move beyond the IBM PC format? said Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple.
This year Apple launched its iPad 2 a little later than scheduled. This gave room for a lot of competition and imitators to develop their versions of the ?perfect post PC device?. As a result of leaked information and inquisitive competition. This year CES 2011, the premier technology expo held in Las Vegas, USA tablets were the main theme and some 17 tablets were showcased.
The most popular of these was the Apple iPad 2, followed by Motorola Xoom, Galaxy Tab 10.1, Blackberry Playbook and the new Acer Iconia Tab. Many of these made to the Middle East region and sales quickly caught on. Galaxy Tab will hit store shelves in America and Europe on June 6th. There is no comfirmed date when it will hit key Middle East markets.
The tablet is penetrating several markets; still in the Middle East it has attracted business men, media professionals and gamers. While overseas academic universities such as George Washington University are using it in classrooms and Pearson plans to release text-books for tablets. With so many options it is quite difficult to decide which one is suitable.
While Apple has its loyal enthusiasts, when choosing a tablet it all boils down to type of usage and software.
The market can very well be divided into 3 categories. Apple is a leader in audio and video content creation and has the world?s largest online store. Amazon is second. Google is a pioneer in online services and Blackberry is popular for its Push services and rugged smartphones.
Software and Apps
According to Distimo, applications research company. In April 2011, there are 75,755 applications specifically tailored for the iPad 1 and 2. Blackberry offers around 26,771 and some 60,000 apps exist on the Google Android Honeycomb OS.
The report findings show that Google Android Market eclipsed the Apple App Store in terms of free applications and now has 134,342 free applications, while the Apple App Store iPhone has 121,845 free applications. However, Android Market and Blackberry App World are blocked in the Gulf and can only be accessed by rerouting the browser via Europe. Android OS comes with the Slide ME App store in the Gulf Markets.
Most of the competition has been driven by Apple iPad 2 and, the tablet today is sold out worldwide. BBC reported ?iPad 2 sold out within 4 hours of its launch in China.? The ?iPad 2 sold out across all stores during the first 47 minutes,? according to Best Buy Canada. Supply is short in UAE according to a Apple distributor Arabian Business Machines.
Once compared the Apple iPad 2 does not compare that strongly, that is partly because of the delay in its launch initially which gave competitors an edge. Though others may be better, Apple enthusiasts are not impressed that that is partly due to the Apple operating system iOS.
Besides the Apple system iOS 4.3.3 the PlayBook runs on Blackberry OS 6. CNET Editor claims its browser is very slow and it has yet to receive the Adobe Flash upgrade. The rest run on the much anticipated Google Android Honey Comb 3.0 which is specifically designed for tablets.
At the end of the day all the popular software titles have app versions for the 3 platforms, so the decision to buy is more of a loyalty issue.
In the Middle East, the Android OS is gaining popularity very fast and catching up with Apple, especially since the original store has to be accessed through its European stores. As far as the Playbook is concerned, it cannot be used like the standard blackberry smartphone to make calls.
Since the iPad 2 is an Apple product, the ?Made for iPhone, iPad? market has attracted more accessories then the competition but that is mostly due to the proprietary Apple connector. This is not a problem for Android and Playbook tablets as they use the conventional USB connectors.
The accessories are available in large quantities across the Gulf region.
So there is really no specific answer to which is better. It boils down to type of usage and loyalty. Technical individuals even in the Middle East prefer Android and the iPad is used more as a fashion accessory and gaming device.