So Apple got a lot of skepticism when the iPad was introduced last year, including the name itself. Then they sold 15 million of them in nine months. Now everyone has to bring a iPad thingie to the market and they come in varieties of shapes, sizes and operating systems. Blackberry has Playbook. HP just introduced TouchPad based on WebOS, the Palm operating system. The latest one and arguably the best one seems to be Motorola Xoom, that might give some competition to the iPad.
To begin with, Xoom is more expensive ($800) than a 32GB iPad. Of course you can get it for $600 with a two-year contract with Verizon. The size and shape are exact replica of an iPad. The big differentiator is the operating system, Honeycomb – Google’s Android 3.0 specially designed for the tablet instead of the phone. At the hardware level, Xoom deploys dual core processor (smoother game animation), a five mega-pixel still camera in the back that can take HD video, a front camera for video chat, stereo speakers, a HDMI jack for easy connection to TV (good for PPT presenters), and a battery life of 10 hours with video play. It is expected to link to Verizon 4G cellular network later.
Honeycomb can be a real iPad competitor. It is more powerful and more complicated. Android has fewer applications compared to the iPad (60,000 of them). But the application cottage industry for Android is growing fast, as it will support tablets of all sizes and shapes and vendors. It has advanced features like speech recognition and GPS navigation.
So we will have to wait and see what the new iPad 2 brings later this year. Xoom’s camera is a big add-on. One thing is clear. The year 2011 will see more intense tablet activity than last year.