Tim Bichara

The Xmas Tablet Bloodbath

This Christmas is certain to be the 'war of the tablets'. A tech bloodbath is set to take place at the north pole.

The rumours of an iPad Mini finally came right, despite the fact that Steve Jobs said this would never be something that Apple would do. But when he was in charge, the company would never be found slating another’s product. Phil Schiller boldly betrayed that protocol during Apple’s most recent mass announcement, making it quite clear why their tablet is the best, and that others are just made of plastic…

It smacked slightly of desperation and many fans were infuriated that the company announced another full-size tablet just six months after the iPad 3 launched. Especially now this one has all the necessary connectors to go with your new iPhone 5 that you simply have to have. Because its screen is a bit bigger and… It also undermines the top-of-the-range product line that Apple has carefully crafted. But having created the entire tablet market, who can blame them for using their vast profits to make sure they own every inch of it?

For a long time, there was something about Apple that said prestige, high-end, the best. But are early adopters feeling a little bit… “just like everyone else now”? And for those who haven’t taken their tablet yet, are people wondering whether they really should shell out for all the Apple kit, when they no doubt have a Windows PC anyway..?

Enter Microsoft Surface. It has finally launched and already has many of the apps you can find in Google and Apple’s stores. Although untested in the tablet market, Windows is a trusted brand, and even a breath of fresh air for users sick of having heart strings tugged at Apple’s whim. It is widely being touted as the operating system that might yet break the Google/Apple dominance. Will it make it onto your list?

The Kindle Fire is a portal to Amazon’s store, a shop-front in your hand that has helped transform them from ‘just’ an online retailer to a publisher as well, from the web to the physical world. Amazon has created an incredibly positive online experience with digital natives and many older people as well.

The NOOK is competing with Amazon’s Kindle Fire head on – some might say they are trying to out-Amazon Amazon – but who isn’t these days? With this device, the US books giant Barnes & Noble has neatly bought the physical world of books to mobile, something that many high street retailers are still struggling to come to terms with.

They have a huge, older audience in the US – made up of people who used to go to the bricks and mortar stores and their tablet has some specifications, including font sizing, that appear to have taken that into consideration. The tablet has the same screen resolution but is less prone to glare, although the Kindle is simpler for web browsing.

Many British shoppers are already wedded to Amazon’s platform – with credit card details already entered, buying processes and recommendations already built-up. Can the NOOK really gain any traction, perhaps among older audiences who want a bit more than an eReader, but nothing too expensive and scary?

And just when you thought it was safe to take your eyes off Twitter, Google has announced the Nexus 10 (as opposed to its 7-inch version) that undercuts the iPad 4 by £80 and has an on-board alternative to iTunes. Back in March, Andy Rubin, Senior VP of Mobile at Google, said to reporters at Mobile World Congress that ‘2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we’re winning in that space’. And what a perfect time to upscale its offering, just as Apple has shrunk its flagship device.

It seems like homes across the country will be settling down after xmas lunch to play with their new tablet toys. But who’s one? Right now it’s anyone’s guess…


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