People who think a Windows 7 or Android-based tablet will be a competitor to the iPad are living in a dream world.
To create a realistic competitor to the iPad requires a company to act just like Apple.
Here is one of the principles that’s guiding Apple, from the 2006 introduction of the iPhone:
How many companies tightly integrate their software with their own hardware?
Microsoft doesn’t. It’s trying to with Zune … but where has that gone? And the upcoming new WinPhone? That’ll be licensed to others.
So, if you’ve been expecting something to “save” you from the iPad, critics, you’re not going to find it this year, unless you intend to really blind yourselves to the set of shortcomings Windows 7 and Android tablets will inevitably bring with them. Shortcomings that the iPad doesn’t have at all. Plus, we already know that iPhone OS 4.0 will be released for it this Fall, giving it even more of a lead against contenders.
Acer, Asus, Archos, even the wounded behemoth, Sony, all rely upon software they license. None of them have created a hardware/software architecture of their own. They will always be hobbled by that.
Nokia? Symbian and Maemo. Both failures. So too will be the Intel-Nokia crossbred MeeGo (comprised of Mobilin and Maemo) — which is also intended to be licensed.
The only company out there that has acted like Apple has been Palm.
It can be argued that Palm has been doing so incompetently, but at least it’s been adhering to the Apple model.
Companies that really want to compete with Apple will have to morph to an Apple-like model. And the shortcut to that is obvious: acquire Palm as a first step. Adapting webOS to a tablet would be easier than shoehorning Windows 7 or giving Google an outsider’s blueprint for adapting Android to the tablet form factor. And once a company owns webOS, it can act just like Apple: it doesn’t have to share it with anybody. That is how Apple is serious about software.