With the release of Apple’s iPad less than a month away, consumers are anxiously awaiting the company’s latest offering in the touch-screen space. Apple’s iPad will boast an impressive slate of features, including a full ebook integration, access to the company’s App Store and much more. It’s essentially a big iPod Touch. And at the affordable starting price of $499, it should generate significant buzz.
But Apple isn’t alone in the marketplace. Apple’s competitors are led by HP. The company’s upcoming Slate product looks like it could be the single competitor in the market that could give Apple a run for its money. The device will boast several features that the iPad lacks. Plus, it will be backed by a company that consumers can trust. Simply put, the Slate is a product to watch out for. And Apple should be concerned about its appeal to consumers.
1. It’s good-looking
Part of the iPad’s appeal is its nice design. The device reflects Apple’s ability as a designer to deliver products that appeal to the consumer’s eye. But HP has done the same with its Slate. Granted, the designs are extremely similar, but who cares? HP’s Slate will appeal to consumers just as much as the iPad. For once, Apple won’t easily win out in product design. That’s refreshing.
2. It’s running Windows
The HP Slate will run Windows 7 when it hits store shelves. That’s an extremely important feature. One of the issues with the iPad is that it isn’t running a full-fledged operating system. That limits its functionality and turns it into a big iPod Touch, rather than a portable computer. That might be what Apple is going for. But whether or not users really want to use such an operating system when working on basic computing tasks is currently unknown.
3. Flash support
It seems that whenever people talk about the iPad, the question arises about whether or not compatibility with Adobe Flash multimedia platform is really necessary. I think it is. Many of the top Websites on the Web use Flash. It’s what powers many Web videos. No matter how much some people hate it, Flash is a necessary evil on the Web. And tablets need to support it. HP’s Slate does, meaning any Website will work on it. Apple’s iPad doesn’t.
4. HP is second
Typically, when a product comes to market second, it spells trouble for that company. But in this case, it might have helped HP. Since Apple showed its hand by publicizing iPad’s features, HP can go back to the drawing board and improve the Slate to offer features missing from the Apple device. Thanks to a delayed launch, the Slate might be everything the iPad is-and isn’t.
HP Slate Making a Timely Entry into the Tablet Market
5. The enterprise might like it
Tablets are designed specifically for consumers. But if the corporate world decides to pick up tablets for employees, the HP Slate might lead the way. Unlike the iPad, the Slate runs Windows- favorite of the enterprise-and will likely work with many of the simpler applications companies currently employ on a daily basis. Compatibility means everything to the enterprise. And the Slate will provide it.
6. Its advertising is Apple-esque
When you have the chance, go to YouTube and check out HP’s latest teaser video for the Slate. Notice anything interesting? It’s a PC vendor delivering a 30-second spot that can rival Apple’s commercials. That’s no small feat. A main contributing factor to Apple’s success is its marketing. It has impressed most viewers who have seen its commercials. The Slate’s marketing is on par with the iPad’s. That can only be good for HP.
7. It’s forward-thinking too
There’s no debating that the iPad offers several features that clearly define Apple’s desire to look ahead, rather than focus on the past. But the HP Slate reflects that desire as well. The device boasts multitouch, and it appeals to what consumers really want to do with mobile products. Perhaps most importantly, it’s trying to deliver an experience, which is something that, so far, only Apple has been successful at.
8. Reading and more
At CES this past January, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off some of the Slate’s many features. Included in that is the ability to read ebooks. Apple has marketed its iPad as a Kindle killer, capable of delivering ebooks (or, in Apple’s case, iBooks) to consumers who want to be able to read their favorite titles without holding a hardcover. HP Slate owners will be able to read -books as well. And like the iPad, the device will allow users to listen to music and watch videos. The Slate is a full multimedia device. Consumers will like that.
Unlike the iPad, which requires users to buy accessories in order to connect peripherals to the device, the HP Slate will offer a USB port, making it much easier for consumers and enterprise customers to connect flash drives, printers or just about anything else to the device. Connectivity could be one of the Slate’s most important advantages. Although the iPad will allow users to connect products through an accessory, the Slate doesn’t require an additional purchase to perform such a basic task. That’s refreshing. And it’s a major selling point.
10. It’s coming this year
The iPad is scheduled to hit store shelves sometime in 2010. That’s important. If HP had given Apple a full year to offer the iPad without any competition on the market, the company would have likely taken an insurmountable lead. After all, HP’s product would have looked like the also-ran as Apple prepared to release the second iteration of its device. But by releasing the Slate this year, HP has the opportunity to capitalize. It can let consumers use the iPad and offer a product of its own a few months later that, it claims, will trump the iPad on several fronts. It’s a smart move. And it could spell trouble for Apple’s iPad.