In the first blog in this series, we discussed how tablets came to be what they are now. In the second, we talked about the release of the iPad. Now, we should focus on the last two years and the forward leaps tablets have made in that time. Since Apple released the iPad, the market has seen dozens of other models come around and, in some cases, go away again.
The same year Apple released the iPad, the Samsung released the Galaxy Tab and Dell released the Streak. Less than a year later, Apple upgraded to the iPad2. During that time, various companies released over 80 other tablets. However, many of those tablets have not sold as well as the manufacturers might like. Apple’s iPad2 is still the tablet of choice for many consumers.
Most recently, Amazon.com released its own tablet. The Kindle Fire sells for only $199, a third of the price of most other tablets, including the iPad2. The Kindle Fire has a large shopping base in its maker, Amazon, and looks to be a good option for those on a budget. Many people were impressed by the Kindle Fire’s lack of mobile computer support issues at its release. A large number of other tablets required updates as soon as they were purchased because the companies hurried to release a product that was not entirely ready, in the wake of the iPad release.
In the tablet market, there is just as heavy competition over operating systems between Apple and Google as there is between Apple and Microsoft over laptops and desktops. The Google-powered Android operating system currently powers 39% of all tablets and that number is growing.
It is difficult to say what makes consumers choose an Android tablet over an iPad. It tends to be different for each user. Some people simply do not like Apple, others find a good deal on an Android, and some choose it based on performance. Among high-end tablets, there is almost no difference in price between an iPad2 and many Android tablets. Some people may buy cheaper models that run Android to save money.
Whatever the reason, Google is gaining ground. There is still a long way to go, however, before Android gets close to Apple. The immediate future of tablets seems clear – faster speeds, longer batteries, and more apps. What is not so clear is what our mobile computing devices will be in 10 years. Will the tablets of today appear as outdated and obsolete as the computer-based drawing tablets that preceded the self-contained tablet? Will we even have any device that resembles a tablet, or will something completely new and different take its place? It is exciting to try to imagine the possible new technologies that lay ahead of us and just as the early computer designers dreamt of a wireless, portable world, we have to dream about impossible things in order to create the future.
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