NEWS ANALYSIS: When looking at the 2012 Mobile World Congress show, it seems that tablet makers, realizing that they can’t beat the iPad 3, are trying to play different games instead. Will it work?
After the 2012 Mobile World
Congress wraps up in Barcelona, Spain, this week, the mobile worlds attention
will turn to San Francisco, where
Apple is likely to announce the iPad 3 March 7
. While the iPad 3 isnt
really a product yet, at least in theory, its clear that the rest of the
tablet industry is already trying to scramble out of the way so that their
devices dont get crushed in the onslaught.
Although Apple isnt even at
MWC, its still the 1,000-pound gorilla in the room.
This means that tablet
manufacturers have been looking desperately for some way to appear to be
different from the iPad.
Asus is an excellent
Instead of slugging it out
with Apple in an ill-conceived struggle that itll never win, Asus
has come up with the Padfone
. This is a tablet with an embedded smartphone.
The 4.3-inch phone acts as the tablets brains, while the tablet is really just
a docking station and display for the phone. Both devices run Android 4.0or Ice
Cream Sandwichand theres a Bluetooth accessory that lets you answer the phone
while its inside the tablet.
But thats not all thats
happening at Asus. The company has also launched new models of its Transformer
Pad, which lets you convert a tablet into a laptop. This is similar to what
Hewlett-Packard started doing a decade ago with a series of Microsoft
Windows-based tablet computers that in various configurations had either a foldaway
keyboard or a removable keyboard that allowed the tablet to operate
independently. The biggest difference between then and now is that the new Asus
tablets use Android rather than Windows, and it reflects current practice in
HP, meanwhile, still makes
those tablets, along with a similar Slate Tablet.
Adding to the mix is
something called the super phone, or phablet.
Appearing at first to be a
mild-mannered Samsung Galaxy, the illusion vanishes as you approach it. This
phone has a 5.3-inch screen, and recognizing its size takes away from its
usefulness as a phone, Samsung
has decided to call it the Galaxy Note
. The big screen lends itself to note
taking (thus, the name) and in a back-to-the-future change, the Galaxy Note
includes an active stylus, something that other tablet makers, such as HTC, are
also starting to use with their smaller tablets.