As people currently know, Microsoft and Google are currently devising tablet computers in order to keep up with the competition and stay in business. But what exactly is going on in the tablet market?
Microsoft Releases a Tablet PC
For a long time, Microsoft has released tablet PCs for consumer use. The company’s tablet PC is a successor to the “pen-based computing” phenomenon, popular in the 1990s. According to USA Today, Microsoft released “Windows for Pen Computing”, an add-on to Windows 3.1 that lets the operating system accept input from a “pen” (really a stylus). It was obviously not designed for finger touching, since it relied on a notepad and pen. Nevertheless, pen-based computing did get a lot of attention, but since it was not designed with the “finger touching” capability, it was quite a hassle. The pen-computing fad disappeared before the 21st century, to be replaced with a simpler device: tablet PC.
According to USA Today, Microsoft released Windows XP Tablet PC edition in 2002, and manufacturers such as HP and Acer started making tablet PCs. Although they resemble today’s tablet PCs, however, they were really PCs. It was expensive and heavy, and it didn’t last long on battery power. It was also pen-based as well. Most Microsoft Windows OS were keyboard-and-mouse based operating systems, so it was hard to use the operating system with a pen, since it was difficult to use a pen to access the many functions on the operating system. Many of these tablets had keyboards as a backup, similar to a laptop. So Microsoft has failed at its attempts to release tablet PCs that would be easy to use, but it did help to revolutionize this particular idea.
Fast forward four years, and Microsoft tries its attempts again with tablet PCs. According to USA Today, Microsoft launched “Project Origami” with some of its partners. The idea was to build tablet PCs to make it sensitive to fingers and pens. Samsung and few other companies followed along. But in this second experiment, Microsoft got something right: the company made a lighter version of its original tablet PC, weighing at 1.7 pounds, just slightly heavier than Apple’s first generation iPad. Although Microsoft made a lighter version of the original tablet PC, ultimately Microsoft had failed, once again, to make a tablet PC that was easy to use. The reasons were pretty obvious. First, Microsoft’s OS are largely keyboard-and-mouse based. Second, it was expensive. And lastly, but most importantly, it suffered from short battery life. According to USA Today, these PCs could surf the Internet for 2 hours at a time.
Microsoft plans to release Windows 8, an operating system designed for both traditional desktops and tablet PCs. According to USA Today, it will run on phone-style chips rather than PC-style chips. This begins Microsoft’s third experiment with the tablet PC. But whether or not the third experiment turns out to be successful or not remains to be seen.
Google Releases a Tablet PC
The most familiar tablet PC in the world of Google is the Android. Some mobile phone consumers currently use the Android as their mobile phone device. In addition to its phone capabilities, it also has Internet capabilities as well. But beware: Google is producing a glorified version of its original Android. This would be known as Google’s Nexus 7.
According to PC World, this 7-inch tablet PC is being released to consumers at about the same time Apple releases its proposed iPad mini. But differences exist between iPad and Nexus 7. For example, Apple maintains a tight grip on user experience, while Google doesn’t. Apple possesses a highly controlled approach to app development and approval, while Google doesn’t. And finally, Google’s tablet PC provides support for Flash, something Apple’s iPad doesn’t.
Effects of Microsoft and Google’s Competition
There is a silent but public war going on: the tablet war. But, the “tablet war” is merely the concepts of free market economy in disguise, coupled with competition in a free market. This time, however, the concepts are now being applied to something American consumers love: the tablet PCs, especially Apple’s iPad.
A free market economy does not involve government interference. The free market economy is based primarily by supply and demand. Prices are determined by supply and demand. It is here where the tablet wars begin, because Apple, Microsoft, and Google all want to succeed in their sales of tablet PCs.
According to PC World, Google’s approach with Nexus 7 only addresses a small subset of problems facing the Android tablet market. They also need to improve resolution displays and create lighter designs to make the Nexus 7 successful. Google’s Nexus 7 has a long way to go in order to beat Apple’s iPad, since Apple, of course, was the company that successfully cracked the code in the world of tablet computing.
On the other hand, Apple is doing something to respond to this competition. According to PC World, Apple plans to produce iPad Mini and sell the product at $200 to beat the competition. Although Apple publicly states that they don’t like making smaller tablets, however, in response to Google’s Nexus 7, Apple is much more likely to proceed with the production with iPad Mini.
Microsoft’s tablet PCs, however, works neither in favor for nor against Apple’s status in the tablet PC industry. There are several advantages to Microsoft’s tablet PC. According to Huffington Post, Microsoft’s tablet PCs have certain features that are nonexistent on iPads. For example, Microsoft’s tablet PCs have lightweight keyboard attachments that clicks into place and doubles as a cover for the device, to help consumers who are used to PC-style keyboards type more easily and efficiently on tablet computers. Microsoft’s tablet PCs also have integrated kickstands that pop out from the back panel and prop the device at an angle, to allow consumers to enjoy media or type comfortably on flat surfaces. This was designed for convenience. Microsoft also designed the tablet PC to allow stylus input, just like in its predecessors. The biggest difference, however, is the USB ports. Consumers were dissatisfied when iPad was launched without USB ports in 2010. But on Microsoft’s tablet PCs, this issue was taken into account, and the width of Microsoft’s tablet PCs is wide enough to include two USB ports, which is a feature of Microsoft’s tablet PCs.
According to cNet, Microsoft’s tablet PCs are at a disadvantage over price, battery life, and connectivity. First, Microsoft’s tablet PC has a starting price of $599, as opposed to the $499 for current iPad models, making the iPad a slightly cheaper alternative. Second, the tablet PC produced by Microsoft requires a Wi-Fi connection, which doesn’t fare very well in the tablet wars. Lastly, Microsoft’s tablet PC does not have very good battery life. In other words, its battery life is rather short. So, as a result, Microsoft’s tablet PC does not fare very well in the tablet wars competition when considering these three characteristics.
Apple, in response to mainly Google’s Nexus 7, and partially Microsoft’s Tablet PCs, has decided to create similar models, such as the iPad Mini, at prices similar to those proposed for Google’s Nexus 7 ($200) in order to stay competitive in the tablet computing market. Even though some features may be lacking in the iPad Mini, Apple believes this is the only way to keep competitive in the tablet market, even though Apple admits it isn’t advantageous.
According to Northern Voices Online, Google’s Nexus 7 will threaten Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook tablets in the market due to lower prices and better performances. Google’s Nexus 7 would be sold at $199, and it would also be the first tablet computer to boast a quad core processor. The quad core processor feature puts Google’s tablet PC at an advantage over Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s tablet computers, and threatens those tablet computer’s status in the market. According to the Market Oracle, Amazon is responding to this threat by producing Kindle Fire 2, a tablet computer that boasts a 1280 by 800 pixel HD screen and front-facing camera, at only $149.
On the other hand, Barnes and Noble is responding to the competition, but it faces rivalry from the other tablet computer producers. According to Android Authority, Nook Simple Touch was projected to sell at $139 (current market price is $99); however, the Nook Simple Touch lacks some of the features found in Google’s newly released Nexus 7 tablet computer. Despite Barnes and Noble’s efforts to stay competitive, however, their efforts have ultimately failed, due to the newer tablet PCs produced from rivals like Google and Microsoft, equipped with certain features lacking in the Nook Simple Touch, making these tablet PCs better and easier to use.
Eventually, however, Barnes and Noble may find more creative ways to respond to this tablet computer competition, but nobody knows for certain. With more choices in the market now, consumers may benefit from this, however, manufacturers are struggling to stay competitive in this tablet war, as producers participate in a race to produce the most “superior” tablet computer at the lowest price to attract the most consumers.