The 2012 state of the tablet

So here we are – 2011 is almost over and we are just (as correctly predicted in 2009 and 2010) swimming in state of the art tablets from different hardware vendors, running sophisticated and intuitive operating systems. Choice is everywhere and a world where just one tablet dominated the market is so over – NOT!

Let’s be honest – this is just not the way it was supposed to be.

WebOS was awesome, I couldn’t wait to get one and for 99$ that thing sold out so fast that I couldn’t get my hands on one of them (HP was nice though – because I tried to buy from their website and they weren’t able to ship they offered me a 50$ mail in rebate on any of their consumer laptops – just another telltale sign that they just don’t get it).

The RIM Playbook will be on sale on Black Friday for 199$ (for those of you who are not in the US and are not accustomed to Black Friday – don’t worry, this deal is only offered in the US anyway) – but to be honest, even 199$ is too expensive for a tablet that doesn’t really do anything. So, as RIM is going down the drain – so will the Playbook (RIM is down to 11% market share in the Smartphone market – from almost twice as much 15 month ago – so there market appeal for a specialized tablet is vanishing fast).

Well, that leaves us with my favorite – the wonderful world of Android and all its forked versions running on subpar hardware. I just plain dislike Android tablets – they don’t do anything really well, and they cost as much as those tablets of that market leader we will talk about later – so why would anyone want to buy one of those clunky pieces of scrap metal. Oh, it turns out that actually nobody wanted that in 2011 and my prediction is that that also won’t happen in 2012 (maybe with the exception of Sony who surprised me with a highly integrated tablet, using many of Sony’s best services and providing an aesthetic pleasing and simple experience).

So if Android is not competing in the tablet space – who is? Oh, I guess it’s Android, coming along as a glorified cash register in the form of the Kindle Fire -for half the price of all the other Android competitors, subsidized by Amazon and its many services. It is actually a nice device – in part because most users wont even notice that it is an Android device. And my prediction for 2012 is that by end of next year you will get it for 99$ and one year later for free with your Amazon Prime subscription. Jeff Bezos announced that they will sell 6 million of them in its first quarter on the market – hail the first real iPad competitor!

Speaking of competition – let’s say goodbye to Microsoft for 2012 (with the rumors of Windows 8 RTM in Q4/2012 I would not expect any tablet running Windows 8 before mid of 2013).

So the race for market leadership in 2012 will be between: the iPad 2 and the ….. iPad 3.

I don’t care which one wins – I will buy an iPad 3 anyway (just because I have compulsive gadget buying disorder) and I will hope for some more competition in 2013 because without it innovation will slow, prices won’t go down and we as consumers loose.