Apple’s iPad bonanza triggers race to launch copycat tablets

Last week, Microsoft released tantalising pictures of its latest device which got bloggers talking about a tablet. The division of Microsoft behind the account, however, makes keyboards, webcams and mice so it’s more likely that the flat matt black device in the photos is Microsoft’s rival to Apple’s recently announced trackpad.Also Microsoft has a patchy record when it comes to consumer trends. While the Xbox has taken a valuable place in the games console market, its Zune portable music player is still years behind Apple’s iPod in terms of sales.Last month chief executive Steve Ballmer said developing Windows-based tablet computers is “job one urgency” for the software group. He added “we have got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates” but while the firm’s latest PC version of its software has touch capabilities, analysts have warned that putting the whole operating system on a tablet will mean manufacturers will have to use a lot of memory and fast processors on the device, which will increase its price.Also they question whether Microsoft still has the tablet market wrong: consumers do not want to do everything they can do on a desktop on a tablet. It is not merely a new form factor, it is a new kind of device. Some manufacturers are looking at whether its Windows Phone software – which also enables touch as well as the viewing of Microsoft Office documents – is not a better system on which to base Microsoft tablets. Either way, Ballmer said Microsoft is working with partners including Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Asus, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sony on tablets. Many of those firms, however, also have other software in mind. see:iPad may be a ‘game changer’, but competitors are up to this game
When Rupert Murdoch announced last week that Apple’s iPad was a “game changer” and would lead to hundreds of millions of so-called tablet computers being sold globally it was not just the media world that nodded sagely in agreement. The technology industry is also gearing up for a world in which the desktop PC, laptop computer and smartphone are joined by a fourth member of the home computing family.With the same market foresight and cutting edge design that enabled it to revolutionise the smartphone market with the iPhone, Apple has given itself a commanding lead in this new market. But the iPad is about to have several new competitors, some of which will be made by companies that have scores to settle with Apple boss Steve Jobs, having seen him usurp their place in the mobile phone market.

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