The latest version of Apples iPad offers features designed to make it stand out from the competition, including a high-resolution Retina Display and a rear camera capable of shooting 1080p video. It also supports 4G LTE.
Following Apples March 7 unveiling, outside analysts appeared roundly upbeat about the tablets marketplace prospects. We believe Apple will maintain its dominant market share of the fast-growing tablet market despite increased competition, T. Michael Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, wrote in a March 8 research note. We believe the new iPad has raised the bar relative to competing tablets with impressive hardware specifications, competitive pricing, and the leading software ecosystem.
All that being said, however, Apple does face some competition in the space. Here are some of its biggest current (and upcoming) rivals:
Windows 8: In a bid to expand its Windows franchise beyond traditional PCs and into the mobility realm, Microsoft engineered the upcoming Windows 8 to operate on not only laptops and desktops, but also tablets. The new Start screen, which embraces the same Metro design aesthetic that also defines Windows Phone and the new Xbox dashboard, offers the user big, colorful tiles linked to applications.
That tablet-friendly interface, in combination with an app store and a touch-friendly version of Office, will make Windows 8 a significant challenger in the mobility space. Microsoft and its manufacturing partners can pour considerable resources into the effortand they will, considering how Redmond sees Windows 8 as a do-or-die effort.
Android: In 2011, manufacturers around the world introduced Google Android tablets, hoping their entry would prove to be an iPad killer. Many of these devices arrived on store shelves with much fanfare, only to meet with anemic sales. But that doesnt mean these rivals will slink away into the night. Indeed, Android creator Andy Rubin told The New York Times that Google will double down on the tablet space in 2012. Whatever that means, Android clearly isnt down for the countand that could spark continued issues for Apple.
Ultrabooks: The Intel-driven Ultrabook initiative, in which various manufacturers produce super-thin laptops with powerful specs, isnt a direct threat to the iPad in the same way as, say, a Windows 8 or Samsung tablet. However, a portion of users torn between an iPad or an ultra-portable laptop might vote with their wallets for the latter.
However the tablet competition shapes up in 2012, the new iPad clearly solidifies Apple as the company to beat in the space. But when youre the king, everybody else wants a shot at the crown.