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Tablets, you want in?

This Fall/Spring we should be able to find a couple of options other than the iPad when looking for a tablet.  For those that mock the need for a tablet, read my post on expectations.  For others looking forward to competition, read on!

Blackberry’s Playbook and the Samsung Galaxy Tab have entered the mix in hopes to prove the world does not revolve around Steve Jobs (though teens may disagree).  Both looks promising and if you need to do a comparison, hit this link.  The focus of this post is what others need to learn about what Apple has already achieved and treat the iPad as the baseline for their products.

How did a glorified 10″ iPhone captured the imagination of so many buyers?  It had a right combination of features and elegance that help justify it’s steep price.  If you want to compete, here is what you are up against:

OS
IOS was designed from the ground up to be touched.  From the gestures of navigation to movement of objects, IOS made sense for mobile users and transitioning to a larger screen only extended the potential opportunities that can be gained from a larger surface area.  Android is a proven mobile OS and should be able to follow Apple’s evolution quite well.  Blackberry’s new tablet OS still has to prove itself but from the tech demos, it looks much better than their previous efforts.  Windows 7? No.  This is a desktop OS built around a mouse and keyboard ideology and is not meant to be touched.  I admire Microsoft’s constant attempts to help mask the windows-based design but in all honestly, it failed in the past and it will fail in the future until MS learns to reboot their OS philosophy like they did for Windows Phone 7.

Apps
Apple’s App Store established the fact that if you have an OS that is touchable, building apps around that philosophy helped magnify the simplicity of use.  Android will succeed, maybe more, in this area and others are quick to fall in line.  Windows 7? No.  Mouse and Keyboard apps suck on tablets.  Starting to see a trend?

Touch
We all heard the term “mult-touch” but vendors have to be careful when using this feature on a larger screen.  On a mobile phone, tracking two, maybe three fingers made sense.  The screen was small and the amount of movement was limited.  When moving up to screens 7″ or larger, ten points of interaction is necessary.  This makes apps that mimic piano or water practical and give developers reason to add more interactive points to their applications.  Ten finger tracking should not be an option but a requirement.

Connectivity
Wireless should never be an option.  It should be a standard feature.  What should be an option is cellular connectivity.  It is a wonderful feeling to turn on 3G access on the iPad when I need it and not have to sign a two year commitment.  This business model is the future.

Price
$499 should be your baseline.  If it is greater than that and you cannot do all the above, then you should not enter this market.  Apple set the mark and people bought into it.  If you can hit that mark or lower, and not require a two year commitment, you got a winner.

The Apple iPad is not the ideal tablet, but it is close.  If vendors hope to succeed, they have to be able to match the iPad before they can claim to beat it.  Unfortunately, I really do not see that yet in the products announced.  Maybe CES 2011 will change that.

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