Apple's New iPad Faces Windows 8, Renewed Android Competition in 2012

Apple's new iPad faces competition from a number of rivals, including Microsoft's Windows 8 and Google Android.

The latest version of Apple€™s iPad offers features designed to make it stand out from the competition, including a high-resolution €œRetina Display€ and a rear camera capable of shooting 1080p video. It also supports 4G LTE.

Following Apple€™s March 7 unveiling, outside analysts appeared roundly upbeat about the tablet€™s marketplace prospects. €œWe 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. €œWe 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 €œMetro€ 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 effort€”and 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 €œiPad killer.€ Many of these devices arrived on store shelves with much fanfare, only to meet with anemic sales. But that doesn€™t mean these rivals will slink away into the night. Indeed, Android creator Andy Rubin told The New York Times that Google will €œdouble down€ on the tablet space in 2012. Whatever that means, Android clearly isn€™t down for the count€”and that could spark continued issues for Apple.

Ultrabooks: The Intel-driven €œUltrabook€ initiative, in which various manufacturers produce super-thin laptops with powerful specs, isn€™t 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 you€™re the king, everybody else wants a shot at the crown.

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