Besting Apple's MacBook Air, iPad: 10 Things Competitors Must Do

News Analysis: Companies are targeting the MacBook and iPad with thin laptops and tablets, but so far have haven't succeeded in creating products with the Apple's consumer appeal. What should they be doing to beat the Apple products?

If there is any constant in the mobile-computing market, it's that Apple will continue to dish out high-quality, appealing devices each year. It did so with the launch of the first iPad last year and the iPad 2 earlier this year. And on the lightweight notebook front,the company's MacBook Air continues to be the benchmark by which all other products are judged. Apple is simply the gold standard for how to be successful in today's mobile marketplace.

But there are many competitors in the wild that want to change that. Motorola, Samsung and Google have been trying their luck at beating Apple in the tablet space. At the Computex show on May 31, Intel unveiled a new product category it calls Ultrabooks that it believes could be the perfect answer for consumers looking for lightweight notebooks, including Apple's MacBook Air.

However, all those companies and the many others that are trying to take Apple down a notch need to do much more if they are going to gain ground against the popular products produced by Steve Jobs and Company. Apple's iPad and MacBook Air are simply too impressive for competitors to dole out a basic platform and hope to succeed.

Read on to find out what the competition must do to take on Apple's MacBook Air and iPad 2 in the mobile-computing space.

1. Try Ultrabooks out

Though the fate of Ultrabooks is currently unknown, it wouldn't hurt Apple competitors to at least deliver one of those devices to test the market. On paper, Ultrabooks seem like a compelling idea, thanks to their small footprint and lightweight design. Whether or not consumers will actually respond well to them, however, remains to be seen. If vendors want to quickly take on Apple's MacBook Air, offering an Ultrabook might be a good place to start.

2. Think seriously about design

One of the biggest problems with competing devices, including the Motorola Xoom and countless lightweight notebooks, is that they don't offer the same kind of design quality as Apple's alternatives. If competitors can learn anything from Apple,it's that a solid design means the difference between success and failure. They must remember that as they plan their future devices.

3. Windows won't always cut it

In the lightweight notebook space, Windows reigns supreme. Microsoft is also planning a big push into the tablet space with Windows 8. The only trouble is that operating system might not be best in all cases. Apple's MacBook Air is running Mac OS X. Windows makes perfect sense for competing notebooks. But the same can't be said for tablets. In the tablet space, Android should be running on devices to compete against Apple.

4. Android won't cut it either

Speaking of Android, it's important to note that that operating system won't always work in every case, either. As mentioned, Android would be an ideal software choice in the tablet space, but the operating system can't compete against Mac OS X, which makes Android a poor choice for a lightweight notebook. Android will work to help competitors compete against Apple, but not in every situation.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...