CES 2011: Tablets do battle at Las Vegas gadget show
- 7 January 2011
- From the section Technology
The tablet wars are on and industry watchers say it will come down to a battle between Apple and Google for domination.
Apple's success with iPad, which has sold 7.5m, has spurred a number of competitors to enter the market.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it has been estimated there are over 100 tablet computers on display.
At the show there were a number of devices powered by Google's Android operating system.
Google said it has more than 100 Android compatible devices from phones to tablets.
One of them is Motorola's XOOM which has been hailed by a number of bloggers and reviewers as a possible iPad killer.
The tributes come even though the Android 3.0 software which it will run on, is not quite finalised.
The Washington Post called it "the most promising iPad competitor" while Reuters news service noted that "Google stole the show" by unveiling its latest Android software which appears on the XOOM.
Motorola was only able to show a prototype of XOOM, with a final version ready to ship in the US in the next couple of months. There is no official note of when it will be available for sale in Europe at this stage or the price of the device.
The XOOM is Motorola's first tablet device. It has a 10.1 capacitive screen with the ability to show full HD video playback. It will also feature the expected features like accelerometer, gyroscope and Adobe Flash and there will be a rear and a front facing camera for making video calls.
Tablets showing off Google's Android operating system will turn heads, thinks IainThomson, US editor of technology blog V3.
"We are seeing Windows 7 on some slates but its Windows - it's not very sexy, it's not very exciting. So if we are talking about a battle between the two then it is definitely Apple going head to head with Android."
Industry watcher Jonathan Roubini, editor of Lab Reviews, said Android 3.0 was key to the success of any iPad killer.
"All the Android operating systems have been for phones but with Android 3.0 you will have a dedicated OS that will let you do things on the tablet that gives you the feel of a real computer on a tablet device."
While Motorola shied away from calling their product an iPad killer, they were bullish about the challenge it poses to Apple for the next iteration of its successful tablet computer.
"The gauntlet has been thrown down to everybody," said Paul Nicholson, product marketing director for XOOM.
"This sets the bar. This is a tablet that shows what a tablet is supposed to be. It's the one everyone was waiting for this Christmas," he said.
So what of the iPad? To date it accounts for nearly half of the 16m tablets sold last year, reigniting a fading market for such devices.
It has been widely speculated that Apple will announce an upgraded version later this month.
Apple have refused to confirm or deny speculation about the iPad.
"I think at the moment Apple has a challenge on their hands but there have been plenty or rumours about an update and blueprints surfacing on the net about what it will look like," said Mr Thomson of V3.
"Long term Android will be the winner but for the next three or four years, Steve Jobs has nothing to worry about."
Mr Roubini agreed. "iPad is the big giant but as soon as people realise that Android can do better then it's going to be tough for iPad to remain the leader."
Another player expected to announce a tablet in the very near future is HP.
Any device it unveils is expected to be based around the Palm operating system after it bought the company earlier in the year.
HP's chief technology officer Phil McKinney refused to confirm or deny details, but said the dominance of tablets at CES was hard to ignore.
"Someone said this (CES) is turning into a slate/tablet fest and we have said we will ship a WebOS slate in 2011.
"Generally any slate or tablet has to look at its application catalogue that is available to it. It's got to look at its connectivity option - how good is that online experience.
"Also that slate/tablet needs to work across your ecosystem of your devices. It can't be a stand alone data island. It's got to synchronise with your PC, or your phone or the cloud for example," added Mr McKinney.
HP has invited members of the press to an event it is hosting in San Francisco next month when it is expected to unveil a possible tablet.
"The onus is now on HP to shock and surprise," said Caroline McCarthy of technology news blog CNET.com
"It remains to be seen what they can deliver with the WebOS because Palm was losing market share when it was bought and consequently the WebOS system is not that highly anticipated."