Now that more than a handful of new tablets have hit the market in 2010, the shift in talk has turned from X vs. Y discussions about which tablet is better (usually with the iPad involved somehow) toward how the next generation of these devices will stack up against their current iterations.
We all know the iPad is a runaway success, despite it’s less than ideal standards. The Galaxy Tab is also turning out impressive numbers, especially in the US where it has sold more than 1 million units as of a couple days ago. Other devices like the Dell Inspiron Duo, HP Slate and Viewsonic G are all hitting the market before the holidays and more are prepping for release early next year.
But, you know as well as I do that when it comes to technology, the hype for a new device only lasts as long as it’s unavailable. After release and a few weeks of sales tracking, the talk turns to when the next version of that device will be available and how much it will add to blow away all previous models.
Of course, most of the conversations right now seem to focus on what Apple will do to compete with the onslaught of competitors. Sure, Apple has sold more than 4 million iPads, but how will they maintain that industry lead in the iPad 2? Not much is known (other than the highly rumoured camera and a probable processor upgrade), but I’m sure we’ll see more of the same halo-device style upgrades that Apple is known for.
But, what about the rest? What major features are on the horizon in this industry that smaller companies are willing to experiment with in a bid to carve out a share of this market? In 2010, we saw the release of a dual-boot Windows 7 and Android tablet in the Tega V2, something that changed how many people think about the functionality of a tablet PC. The Dell Inspiron Duo is offering a dual mode netbook/tablet experience for those that still feel the urge to type on occasion – definitely not a new idea in touch technology, but a welcome one in the current tablet arms race.
In 2011, Acer has announced its 10 inch and 7 inch tablets with dual core processing, front and back facing cameras (a feature I think we’ll see serious traction on), HDMI out, and multiple form factors (as Samsung has discovered, not everyone wants a 10-inch tablet). Other devices are touting potential phone service, and the first wave of 4G enabled tablets is likely to start popping up by the end of 2011 with most major network upgrades starting to go into effect.
What do you think? What major upgrades and technology introductions do you think will drive the tablet industry in the next 6-12 months? Will we actually see game changing set of features from the iPad, or more of the same closed off iOS environment we’ve grown used to? And will devices with bigger and better features get a foothold in the industry any time soon?