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Microsoft Surface. 3rd gen iPad. Is there really any hope?
We all know about the iPad. We all know about the iPad specific apps, and the polish put on them. Old news.
Now we have Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface. Now, I had this opinion before Surface that Windows 8 is designed specifically as a tablet OS and with the unquestionable juggernaut that is Windows, masses of those that are not on desktops will be going to a tablet running Windows 8 by default. The Transformer type Win 8 tablets were already compelling. Now we have Surface, which by early views, seems very well put together. It doesn't change the problem, it just makes it worse.
Then we have Android tablets. In a nutshell, I don't see developers rushing to develop apps for Android tablets pre-Win 8. And definitely not post-Win 8. Any argument to that end just diminished a little more last night.
And that rumoured 7" "Nexus tablet"? I think that's a bad idea for those that hope for a good tablet UI and apps simply because smartphone apps can be made to stretch to 7" where they will look passable, so the pressure to convert them to full tablet apps is much less than stretching a smartphone app to 10" where it'll blatantly look horrible. Flooding the market with 7" is like Samsung flooding the market with the SIII which has a menu button - it will IMHO really slow down adoption of the next UI step.
I've no doubt that Windows 8 will suffer teething problems, the usual issues with supporting various hardware (that even thought Microsoft were strict with their WP7, they still bizarrely suffered from), and the usual Microsoft confusing messages and information release. But Windows 8 has a platform of Windows 7-XP users many of whom are simply going to choose by not choosing, and get a Win 8 tablet. Apple has a mindshare of a beautiful garden, full of coolness, slick design and things that work with Angels singing. (Don't waste time arguing if this is true. People think it's true which is all that matters when buying.) This is to the point where people think iPhone is the generic name for smartphone and iPad is the generic name for a tablet. People still ask me "is that an iPhone?" when I pull out my Galaxy Nexus! Android has no such default or mindshare in the tablet space.
Apple makes a big thing of iPad specific apps. Microsoft makes a big thing of it's tablet orientated Metro design. Google's Andy Rubin said:
"I don’t think there should be apps specific to a tablet...if someone makes an ICS app it’s going to run on phones and it’s going to run on tablets."
Currently there seems to be no tablet UI focus or drive. Not from Google. Not in the upcoming I/O. Nothing. I guess "doubling down" on tablets really does simply mean flooding the market with stretched 7" smartphones.