Tablet market to give mobile innovations a platform to shine
There is no shortage of "me too" tablet plans these days, following Apple's apparent run away success with its iPad. According to press reports, Verizon is working with Google, Dell will launch its Streak in the summer and Research in Motion may have something ready by December.
Arch rival to Apple, Microsoft, is putting its energy into developing a tablet which is more versatile than the "general purpose" device. (So said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the d8 Conference in California.) While we are on the subject, other tablet launches may come from Samsung, Acer, Micro Star, Asus and HTC, though the latter apparently may still be assessing its options.
So what, apart from iconic design and a ready market to Mac heads, makes the iPad special?
For a start, its a combination of form factor, user interface and seamless connectivity to the Internet, as well as the touch screen. That the iPad borrows heavily from its smaller cousin the iPhone is fairly obvious. What is less recognised is the degree of innovation that is coming from the mobile environment across the board. In just a couple of years, several companies have built entire operating systems, more or less from scratch, (Apple, Android, arguably the developers behind Symbian) while the PC market has pretty much relied on one for the last ten years (no prizes).
Looking at other innovations, the handset industry is working on creating a 3D experience by mounting two cameras on the device, and could easily get there before manufacturers of cameras and video recorders do.
If the tablet form creates a marriage between the mobile and the consumer electronics markets, as it seems to be promising, it could be interesting times ahead, if only because the tablet form allows developers screen "real-estate" just not possible on the mobile device. Personally I cannot wait to see an augmented reality app like Star Walk (iPhone) on a tablet device, whether Apple created or not.