Apple's iPad isn't unbeatable, analysts say
Google, HP, Dell and others must focus on marketing, solid features
Computerworld - Top companies like Hewlett-Packard Co. and Google Inc. planning to come out with tablet computers have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to compete with and beat Apple Inc.'s popular iPad device.
Google's plan for a tablet came out this week after CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly revealed some details during a party with friends. The New York Times reported Schmidt's slip that Google is experimenting with an Android-based device.
Meanwhile, HP last week http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9174886/HP_takes_on_Apple_s_iPad_with_Slate_tablet started leaking information about its own Slate tablet computer in blog posts and in teaser videos posted on YouTube. Slate is expected to ship by mid-year.
Right out of the box, each of these computers will have to face Apple's highly touted iPad, which was released amid a flurry of hype and excitement early this month.
Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said that any company that wants to battle the iPad will have to focus on putting out some phenomenal marketing -- the iPad is already the cool device to carry into the local cafe, to use at work or pull out on the morning commuter train.
But he added that Apple certainly isn't unbeatable yet in the tablet business. "The market won't mature for a few years and, until then, it is still anyone's game," Enderle said.
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, suggested that the iPad rivals focus on offering solid features rather that searching for that one killer app.
"Tablets are tweener devices," Olds said. "They're not really PCs and not PDAs. To catch on with consumers, they need to offer utility that can't be found in either [PCs or PDAs].
Olds added that he expects tablets to complement PCs and notebook computers -- "[it's] something that someone would take on a quick trip or keep in the family room. Because they don't replace other devices, they would need to offer a lot of flexibility and come in at the right price point."
Olds also noted that a competitive tablet must at least come in a small form factor and offer lots of connectivity options and basic productivity tools like word processing, calendar and e-mail applications.
To rake on the iPad, competing tablets must immediately be powerful enough to store and play media files, and offer enough battery life to last longer than a traditional notebook.
Both Olds and Enderle noted that Google could have a leg up on the other emerging iPad competitors because of the company's extensive online book collection.
"With Google's ownership and licensing of printed books, I would think this device might be their play to take away some of the Kindle and Sony e-reader market," said Olds. "In fact, it would also make them a more potent competitor to the iPad, which has been widely touted as a Kindle killer."
Olds also noted that "Google can bring a fair amount of innovation to a tablet. They have their own operating system now, plus a slate of apps that can be integrated into it. I would also expect that they would come in well under Apple in terms of price."
Enderle restated that in addition to the feature list, iPad competitors must hit on all cylinders when it comes to marketing.
"A combination of poor user experience and poor marketing would be a killer," Enderle said.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
- Samsung to offer 3 new tablets starting Feb. 13
- Tablets remain tops in American gift-buying plans
- 'Phablets' are eating into the tablet market, IDC says
- Apple springs Retina iPad Mini on customers
- The puzzling Lumia 2520 tablet: Will it disappear when Microsoft buys Nokia?
- Dell launches four new tablets -- all on Intel chips
- Few use tablets to replace laptops
- New Kindle Fire HDX's tech support button could push IT to yell 'Mayday!'
- Kindle Fire HDX tablets show big push for business users
- Microsoft kicks off iPad buyback deal in latest effort to juice Surface sales
Read more about Hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- 4 Customers who never have to refresh their PCs again This paper illustrates a common theme: the combination of desktop virtualization and thin client computing helps organizations deliver an up-to-date user experience more...
- Mobile Devices: The New Thin Clients Get essential guidance for understanding the role thin clients plus virtual desktops play in the enterprise today.
- Taking Windows Mobile on Any Device Taking Windows applications mobile has many advantages, but the process of identifying a solution is complex. Learn how to solve this complex problem...
- PaaS - Powering a New Era of Business IT Why PaaS has suddenly become relevant and irresistible to many organizations. Dive into the opportunities and considerations associated with using PaaS from an...
- Redefine Your IT Operations: Remote Office IT Has Never Been Simpler Join us to see why PC Pro named Dell PowerEdge VRTX the "2013 Server of the Year." PowerEdge VRTX may be just what...
- Four Myths of High-Productivity App Dev Debunked Debunk the main myths surrounding high-productivity application development and how both platforms have overcome them. All Hardware White Papers | Webcasts