With Apple shipping more than 450,000 unit of its iPad tablet in less than a week, the way has been cleared for platform providers such as Google and Microsoft and computer makers such as HP to begin offering their wares in earnest.
The New York Times reported April 12 that Google is mulling the notion of building a tablet based on its Android operating system. The company has been reportedly talking with publishers about putting books, magazine and other content on the device.
The device could run Google's Chrome Web browser and would support Adobe's popular Flash software, the technology Apple kept off its iPhone and iPad much to the outrage of developers who acknowledge Flash as the industry standard.
Google declined to comment, so eWEEK polled several industry analysts about this news and, not surprisingly, learned that none were surprised.
After all, Archos already offers an Android tablet and the Dell Mini 5 is based on Android. Notion Ink, ViewSonic and others are also polishing their Android slates. IMS Research said these machines will combine to give Android 24 percent of the tablet computer market in 2010, second to Apple's 51 percent with the iPad.
That means that iPad will command more than double the market share for Android tablets this year. Moreover, if Google releases a Google-branded tablet, will it do so through its Webstore the same way it offers the Nexus One smartphone? By all accounts but those of Google and manufacturer HTC, the Nexus One sold poorly since January, fewer than 200,000 units.
To that end, eWEEK suggested to analysts that Apple had perhaps beaten Google, Microsoft and others to the punch on tablets with the iPad. Couldn't Apple extend its lead with the iPad similar to the way it shot up to 25 percent smartphone market share with the iPhone in less than three years?
Analysts took that bait but most would have none of it. The consensus is the tablet market is too small and nascent yet to declare a winner. Apple may have gotten the consumer tablet market started with the iPad, but it won't end with the iPad. At least, not for some consumers who don't worship at Apple's altar.
IDC analyst Al Hilwa
Hilwa said that as the Internet expands its reach into people of all ages and walks of life, it is clear that more than 90 percent of everyone needing access to the Internet will be much bigger consumers of content and data than producers.
"Most of us, even those that author content, spend 90 percent of our time consuming it. Thus it is not hard to see that the potential opportunity here is enormous and potentially larger than the PC market in the long run. Given this dynamic, every major platform vendor will want to have a play in this space. The successful devices have to offer compelling usability, performance and simplicity of access. This is the magic behind the iPad."
"The Android devices have not missed this market. We will be in the early stages of this market for a couple of years. I would not be surprised to see a Microsoft Windows Phone 7 based device and a RIM device all announced in the next six months."