The future of tablets isn't clear cut and that's a common sentiment amongst the major recent players whom have emerged with competing technologies. A space that was in 2010 dominated by the iPad with an honourable mention to the Samsung Galaxy are seeing a game changing year in 2011. This year, Apple defined what we could do with a tablet; in 2011 look for new players to emerge with competing tablet stories as they all look to re-define the ecosystem. Here's a look at whose coming out with technologies that just might shift the industry in the coming year.
From a hardware perspective, the HP tablet is said to be exceptional in its execution with a consumable and intuitive design that's propelling HP to the forefront of this market. Negative? App access and depth will be nowhere near that of Apple.
Arguably one of the most anticipated operating systems to emerge next year is the recently confirmed Android Honeycomb OS which was demoed last week by Andy Rubin at D: Dive Into Mobile on a Motorola prototype. Said to be more customizable in nature than its competitors, Rubin noted that the Apps are "more desktop in flavour."
Perhaps the two biggest gamer changers in 2011 will be the iPad2 and the Blackberry Playbook. There's no denying that the soon to be released iPad2 will be everything we hoped for and more, right? Not necessarily. With many competing tablet devices adopting a 7-inch screen, it's not yet confirmed whether Apple will offer a smaller version of their device. Yes, the company has explained that the large screen is part of the iPad experience, but size does matter across gender and demographics.
So how does RIM's Playbook standout amongst the rest of its counterparts? Well, for one, it plays right into the smartphone product experience letting users leverage their mobile device as a key component of the tablet. That is, if you're a current Blackberry user of course (clearly RIM is anticipating the overall experience and affinity with the Blackberry family will be augmented because of this usability factor). With the most advanced hardware to date of any tablet set to be in market in 2011, it's safe to say that the Playbook services the business ready customer. Of course, always in question with RIM is the OS. Can it live up to that of Apple and Samsung? When it comes to Apps, the answer is an obvious no, but according to insiders, the Playbook is "the most advanced" of an OS we've seen produced by RIM to date.
Clearly, all tablets are not created equal; to win a bigger market share different tablets are playing to their varied strengths. Apple is strategically targeting their products for the entertainment centred consumer whereas RIM is all about productivity. Does this mean there might be room for multiple tablet market leaders in 2011? I'm fairly positive that's what RIM, HP, Google and the rest of the environment are hoping for.