The Mighty iPad
For over a year, the iPad was (and arguable still is) the king of the tablet wars. Probably because it was the only contestant. There was no competition out there and even the potential competitors, like the HP Slate, backed down from the fight. The iPad was innovative and turned out to be a great consumer success. Even the harsh criticisms posed by skeptics in the beginning have all been proven unsubstantiated. Apple knew what people would want and gave it to them. The tech geeks out there (like us) may have been disappointed, but they account for an increasingly smaller percentage of the consumer population.
Apple IS Design
The craftsmanship and design on the iPad and iPad 2, like most Apple products, is astounding. Very solid, sleek and sexy. iOS is smooth and user friendly, with very few glitches or animation UI “choppiness”.
Enter the Motorola Xoom
About a year later, right before the launch of the iPad 2, Motorola and Google finally stepped up to the plate with the the Motorola Xoom, a tablet running on Google’s Honeycomb Android OS. The Xoom is legit and when it was released was the only true competitor to the iPad. It’s specs are better than the iPad (like most of Apple’s competing products) and it, unlike a lot of Apple competitors, has GREAT build quality. It feels solid, is nice and thin, and is comfortable to hold due to the rubber backing. There is no doubt that the Xoom has the upper hand when it comes to “comfort”.
Honeycomb is a very pleasing OS to both look at, and to work with. It definitely offers a different approach to table operating systems than Apple’s iOS. For the most part, it is very intuitive and provides flexibility unmatched in iOS. Similar to the early versions of Google’s mobile phone OS (Android 1 through 2.3), Google’s new tablet OS (Android 3.0) has it’s issues. On the surface it just feels more buggy, especially when compared to iOS, and the presentation is not as polished either. The animations are oftentimes laggy and you are met with some confusing UI decisions. Our guess is Honeycomb was relatively rushed out for the launch of the Xoom. With that said, software can always be upgraded and Google has recently released Honeycomb 3.1 to address some of it’s inital problems. We’ll see where it goes from there.
This one has to go the iPad. The Xoom and Honeycomb as a tandem have a ways to go before they can rival the success and overall quality of the iPad. Honeycomb needs some polish and of course, some good apps.
This is, of course, a small battle in the “tablet wars” which will rage on for the foreseeable future. There is probably going to be about 10-15 Android based tablets on the market by the end of 2011. In the end, we feel “open” will win as far as sales go just like with smartphones, but Apples will always provide the products to copy.