Back in January we posted about the coming slew of tablets that were slated to hit the market. Now, heading into the holiday season, nearly 11 months later, it’s interesting to see where things stand. Just looking at my favorite source of tablet news, Goodreader.com, there are pages of announcements and reviews of new devices in the last week alone.
When I wrote the original article back in January, the iPad was still just a rumor, lumped in with a bunch of other “in development” products. Now, in just the first two quarters of the year, the iPad has generated nearly $5 billion in new revenue for Apple. This number is continuing to grow as Apple rolls out the device to a broader global market this week and US-based AT&T and Verizon start selling it in the US.
Another project we mentioned back in January was the joint Microsoft/HP tablet, the Courier. It looked promising, but was killed off in April by HP due to power hungry Intel hardware and dissatisfaction with Windows 7 performance as a tablet OS. The new HP tablet, the Slate 500, was announced last week. It still features Windows 7 but opted for a more powerful Intel Atom processor and a slew of new features.
A new contender that was announced last month is the Blackberry Playbook. This is an interesting option for the business-oriented user as it leverages the familiar elements that Blackberry users appreciate. It has some added bells and whistles over other tablets (two cameras, ability to output 1080p video via standard connector, tethering with a Blackberry device), but it is likely to miss the holiday buying period, coming out instead in early 2011.
A good chunk of the remaining tablet announcements are different hardware variations, from companies like ViewSonic, Acer, and Toshiba, which leverage the Android platform. The most popular of which is the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
What’s interesting about this new slew of Android tablets is that most are based on version 2.2 of the OS, Froyo, which is not even considered by the Google Mobile Product Director, Hugo Barra, to be optimized for tablet devices. The next version, Gingerbread, is promising better tablet support, and boasting a stronger user interface and faster application performance.
For now, Apple still holds the sales lead with over 7.5 Million units, but how long will they hang on with these new contenders hot on their trail?
In the last year we’ve seen this market shift from complete speculation to deliver some intriguing products. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future as many of the big players have yet to still deliver a tablet.