Edge to edge screen, Quad Core, full of innovation…. all this was rumoured, but instead the new Apple iPad looks near identical to the old one, has key features the UK and most of Europe cannot use for at LEAST one year, and has the same (powerful but not state of the art) Dual Core processor but with an upgraded quad core GPU. The saving grace being the absolutely stunning 2048 x 1536 resolution screen.
A missed opportunity for Apple?
Not really, they will sell the new iPad in the bucket load. It is Google who has missed out. In January, Asus quietly released the best tablet on the market (new iPad included), the Asus Transformer Prime. It is a true replacement for a netbook, and for many people even a laptop. It has a detachable full keyboard, which is essential for anyone who wants to write something like an article or essay. It has up to 16 hour battery life when docked with the keyboard, and has true expansion.
Looks are subjective, and everyone knows Apple products look great, but it is hard to not think the Transformer Prime deserves similar acclaim. Stuff Magazine certainly do and it is their favourite tablet (Stuff Magazine / February 2012). The Transformer Prime also has the benefit of being able to plug in USB sticks and SD cards. With Android 4.0 it is even better, so why has Google not capitalised on its two month lead in the market and with better hardware? Some say the impending Asus Google Nexus Tablet is why, but that will not be here until May earliest. By then you would expect a machine more powerful than the iPad and some genuine innovation.
However Google has not supported tablets well enough, and they are getting left behind in the app stakes. You cannot simply upscale a 4 inch app to a 10 inch tablet. It just does not use the space correctly. Google should of separated Android Market in the same way Apple did with the App Store. Android version Honeycomb 3.2 was created to make a Tablet only version of the OS, and with it tablet only apps. However it was never pushed how it should of been hence the lack of tablet apps for Android. The other problem is marketing. I am a big fan of Android as are many people, but go ask your Mum to name a tablet which is not called iPad? Very few people expect tech fans know about them, which is a shame.
Google may have taken too long to move on this fast paced market. If a device as good as the Transformer Prime cannot make it in this market, I fear Apple will be the sole player in the upper end of the tablet market (some would say that has already happened) and then they can be as innovating as they like. Competition breeds better products for the consumer, hence why the tablets like the Transformer Prime have to be amazing pieces of kit to compete with the much more popular iPad.
The rise of the budget Android Tablets – Google’s last hope for Android Tablets?
Recently however there has been a market which has been left wide open by Apple. Most people would like a tablet but refuse to pay more money than they would on a laptop or PC for one. Late last year in the US the Amazon Kindle was launched and sold in big numbers, due in part to the Amazon name and exposure, and also its cheap price combined with having good specifications. The opening up of alternative chip manufacturers making tablet processors has lead to some reasonably powerful Android tablets from previously no name manufacturers out at around the £100-130 mark like the Novo 7 (Amazon affilate link). This maybe the future of the Android tablet market. Their 1GHz chip is more than enough to be smooth and run plenty of apps, they look smart, run Android 4.0 and at £120 it is keenly priced for those wanted to dabble in the tablet market. The Nexus Tablet is also rumoured to be 7 inch and have a low price tag (more £200-250) which reflects this trend. Maybe Asus should make a Transformer Mini for a similar price to their Eee PC netbooks.
The fact that Apple has the confidence to release a new product based strongly on technology that huge markets like Europe and China will not have until at least a year is incredible. It shows how strong the brand is and how weak the competition is right now. Google needs to act fast if they have any chance of making the tablet market work for them.