When Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPad back in January, 2010 was always likely to be year of the tablet. Since then vast amounts of articles have been written, devices sold and apps released, and it is clear that the ‘magical’ device has helped create a mass market for an entirely new category of device – the tablet.
To be honest, iPad was far from being the first to market for a tablet computer. Companies such as HP and Toshiba launched tablet PCs years ago, and touch screen Personal Media Players from the likes of Archos are well established. But the iPad does appear to have made the all important breakthrough into widespread consumer adoption, with over 3 million reportedly sold already.
It is said that imitation is the best form of flattery, and if that is the case, Apple should feel very flattered indeed. Over a dozen new tablets have been announced over the past few months of varying shapes and sizes, most notably from Dell with the Streak. Even BlackBerry are reported to be getting in on the act with the rumoured ‘Blackpad.’ However at least one of these contenders is shaping-up to offer a very credible alternative to the iPad: Samsung and their newly announced Android-based Galaxy Tab.
2010 has also been all about the rise of the Android Operating System, which when it comes to smartphones, is currently offering the sternest competition to Apple’s iPhone, thanks to devices like HTC’s Desire and Samsung’s Galaxy S.
The Galaxy Tab certainly appears to be the equal of the iPad in terms of design, and in several ways has advantages compared with Apple’s tablet. For example it offers support for Flash web sites, has cameras for video conferencing and is both thinner and lighter. The Tab will also be offered by Vodafone, which provides a huge distribution network and the likelihood of significant subsidies if bought with a mobile contract. Of course it does not support iTunes or Apple’s enviable iOS4 user interface, but it does include the latest version of Android: 2.2 and access to the rapidly-growing Android Market.
For us, the Galaxy Tab is yet another great GPS-enabled mobile device that should be able to run CoPilot Live. With it’s hi-res screen it potentially offers a truly fantastic in-car guidance experience, and you’d imagine would be slightly easier to mount in-car than iPad thanks to it’s smaller size. It is apparently the first in a series of tablet devices for Samsung, of which the company has said it expects to sell 10 million in the next year. If the reaction of the tech press is anything to go by it certainly has a fighting chance of achieving that target. In the meantime, we will be working to optimise CoPilot Live for this first Galaxy Tab to take advantage of it’s 7” screen.