State Of The Tablet Union
Ever since Hewlett-Packard announced plans to acquire Palm, plenty of people have wondered whether HP and other PC makers would move forward with Tablet computer plans that involve Windows 7. Here’s the quick rundown on who’s doing what, and why Microsoft may face heightened competition in the mobile device market.
Ironically, there isn’t one single direct source for this story, but crawling across the web is the ‘fact’ that HP’s Slate has been delayed, and HP was generally unhappy about Windows 7’s performance on the forthcoming tablet computer. As we noted awhile back, a Mexican blog site said its own experience with the Windows 7 Slate was less-than-stellar.
Now, let’s switch gears to HP’s buyout of Palm, and Palm’s WebOS operating system. A WebOS implementation on Slate — regardless of how long that may take — reveals a potential trend, and a potential step in the right direction for HP.
Because mobile computing doesn’t have to be a desktop (i.e., Windows) environment squashed into a 10-inch tablet screen. It can be a pleasant app-based experience. Apple’s iPad shows than an App can be quite robust and very fully featured. And that fact is sparking new thoughts in the tablet arena.
Dell has already skipped the idea of a Windows Tablet, and jumped on board with Google’s Android for their Streak tablet. It’s a smart idea, since Android will support Flash (sooner or later) and opens up the user to upgrade paths. Android has a strong user-base, and a plethora of apps and support.
But then what about Microsoft? It’s only fair to note that the Windows Phone 7 Series operating system is pretty nifty. It just took Microsoft a long time to get here. But right now, Windows 7 Phone Series is not even out on phones in the wild yet, so Microsoft’s approach to adjusting that OS for a tablet might require some some. Also, Microsoft doesn’t have a huge developer base (yet…).
So will that be a path Microsoft eventually takes, instead of pushing Windows 7 for tablets? If it is, it may be too late.
From where I sit, the key tablet OS players will be Apple and Google’s Android OS, with it’s nearly ‘every-device’ compatibility. If HP does well with a WebOS tablet, that could mean yet another key player.
What’s more, it’s important to note Lenovo’s Skylight OS. Although Skylight has been delayed a bit, the Lenovo development effort shows yet another alternative to Microsoft’s mobile software strategy. For the effort, Lenovo actually leverages a custom Linux mobile operating system. It’s not Android, but it’s something new all together. A new way of looking at mobile computing yet again.
The tablet revolution, with mobile OSes like WebOS, iPhone and Android also creates a paradigm for something completely different: It’s not your device, it’s your access to the web, your files and your apps. So the true future of the tablet and mobile computing will come down not to the device specifically, but how good is that device at getting you to everything you want, without an obnoxious layer of a full-blown operating system.
I’ve been saying it forever, but let the tablet wars, in 2010, truly begin.