Why is everyone just handing the tablet category to Apple?

Microsoft is currently recommending full blown Windows 7 for a tablet, while also offering up Windows Embedded Compact 7 to OEM’s as an option. At first I thought that sounded interesting. Then I heard they are not creating the UI for it and instead leaving it up to the OEM to design their own interface. It doesn’t make any sense and I can’t believe anyone would think this was a good idea.

Now I’m a huge fan of Windows 7 and it’s great on a laptop and desktop. Windows EC 7 is small and light and is the underpinnings for the Zune and Windows Phone 7. It would make an excellent basis for a tablet. But they need to create the UI and ecosystem with a cohesive marketplace that provides the same experience on all OEM’s products. They can base it on Silverlight which would make it very easy to create apps for the tablet as well as Windows Phone 7.

I believe Microsoft’s long-term goal is to head in that direction but they are putting all their resources into two big launches this fall, Windows Phone 7 and Project Natal for Xbox 360. The recent release of the Kin by Microsoft was a waste of time. It doesn’t make sense and takes away from what they are doing with Windows Phone 7. Microsoft is late to the phone market and because of it they are also late to the tablet market. The current promotion of full Windows 7 on tablets is just to fill the gap till they have a proper product in place.

Google has caught up to Apple in the phone department but has nothing for tablets. They don’t talk about them or do anything to help current Android tablets succeed. I’m hoping that when Google launches the next version of Android codenamed Gingerbread that it includes a modified UI and ecosystem for Tablets. Either that or they make good on their promise of the Chrome OS if it can make better use of the screen space the tablet provides.

That leads me to my other point and question why everyone says Microsoft should just bring their phone OS to the tablet. Many people believe Google should just bring Android to the tablet and forget about Chrome OS. Also HP bought Palm mainly with the purpose of bringing WebOS to the tablet. I’m not sure that’s the best strategy. A tablet is a different category and needs a similar touch based OS but it needs to be more powerful with a focus on multitasking and frankly multiple windows. I have no interest in running games or apps designed for a small 3-4″ screen on a 7-12″ tablet. They need apps written specifically for them, so why not make an OS specifically for the tablet.

I also believe that flash is fundamental to a tablet competing with Apple. It will provide them with some leverage to win over customers. The internet will take longer to change to HTML5 then it will take for competing tablets to hit the market. Also the hardware to run Flash smoothly without killing the battery will be available long before HTML5. I can live without it on my phone, but not on a tablet.

I don’t like the direction everyone is heading with tablets. If they actually want them to replace laptops for most consumer uses they need to be more of a PC and less of a Phone. They really need to find the perfect medium between the two and if Google, HP or Microsoft can actually do it they have a chance of capturing this emerging market. If they release a tablet running a phone OS or desktop OS, they blew it.

Dave Loft

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