The War

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2011-04-25 Print this article Print

  The War

As with smartphones, Google soon became the operating-system supplier of choice for manufacturers looking to break into the tablet game. There was just one tiny issue: Android had originally been developed for smartphones and their necessarily smaller screens, necessitating the creation of a tablet-optimized operating system. Enter Android 3.0, code-named "Honeycomb," which first appeared in early 2011 on the Motorola Xoom tablet.

Around the same time, Samsung, LG Electronics and other companies revealed that their latest tablets would run Honeycomb. Meanwhile, HP announced it would port the webOS operating system onto not only mobile devices, but to PCs, as well.

"The webOS is an unbelievably attractive piece of technology, in that it can interconnect seamlessly a number of various devices," HP CEO Leo Apotheker told reporters during a March 14 press conference. "We see this as a massive, very global platform."

In March 2011, Apple released the iPad 2, hoping to continue its dominance of the tablet market in the face of these rising competitors. Customer response suggested the general public's appetite for tablets hadn't slowed in the past year. That consumer interest bled over into the business sphere, with IT administrators reporting more and more employees interested in integrating tablets into their daily workflow.  

But while Microsoft had collaborated with manufacturers to produce a handful of tablets running Windows 7-which supports gesture control-it refrained from pushing hard into the consumer-tablet market. Current rumors suggest the company will finally make its presence felt in the segment with the release of a tablet-optimized "Windows 8," perhaps due in 2012.

The future remains unclear, although analysts generally assume that Apple's early advantage will allow it to hold a significant portion of the tablet market for years to come. According to a recent Gartner report, Apple's iOS will continue to dominate the media-tablet market through 2015, with a 47.1 percent share. Hard on its heels will be Android, with 38.6 percent, followed by Research In Motion's QNX operating system with 10 percent. Hewlett-Packard's webOS will trail with 3 percent, followed by MeeGo with 1 percent and "other operating systems" with 0.2 percent.

If the tablet PC's past few decades are any indication, though, anything can happen.

Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel