Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tablet Wars 2011

It's gonna get ugly for the hardware manufacturers. It'll be a bonanza for software developers. The tablet boom is coming to 2011.

Some analysts are estimating up to 75 million tablets will be sold in 2011, and Apple may sell half of those. Let's look at each segment of the market.

Apple: Expect a new iPad 2 this year, probably announced by April. Rumors suggest a higher resolution screen, thinner and lighter, and including front and rear cameras. My guess is that Apple will reduce the price of current iPads to make room for this new model, and boost sales even further (while fighting against the massive competition heading their way). I still expect Apple to cut some kind of deal with textbook publishers; the market possibility is huge (student signs up for classes, downloads all textbooks into his iPad... goodbye heavy backpack!). The gaming possibilities will expand as AirPlay allows iPad games to be viewed on an Apple TV-connected TV screen... with iPhones as controllers... we're gonna see some amazing games, especially if the new iPads have even faster processing than the current ones.

Android: The number of Android tablets heading to market is huge; we'll see a slew of them at CES soon. The big deal, though, will be the release of a version of Android crafted with tablets in mind. Google hasn't made any official announcements on this point, but there's plenty of speculation. Some point to the Chrome OS as Google's  reason for holding off on Android for tablets, being afraid that Android make make Chrome OS dead on arrival. I think Google will ultimately go with whatever sells, and right now the demand all seems to be lining up for Android. In any case, Google has to sort out the situation before Android tablets really take off. Even so, there is a wave of Android tablets headed to market soon.

Microsoft: Don't count them out of the tablet race. CES will see the introduction of a new variant of Windows designed for ARM processors as Microsoft aims to grab a slice of this fast-growing market. Still, they've failed miserably in the past to make Windows-based tablets sell; adapting Windows toa finger-based interface has been awkward and slow at best. Can Microsoft reinvent itself sufficiently to succeed? Certainly they've managed to do so with Windows Phone 7, so maybe they can pull it off after all. I think they have a very tough race ahead of them, though.

HP: Here's the real dark horse, with their PalmOS slated to become the basis for a new line of tablets. Certainly HP has the size and manufacturing capability to handle this task; can they be innovative enough? No announcements so far, but the rumors are pointing to a product introduction or several in 2011.

Developers will have multiple targets for tablet products. Gaming will be a major part of all of these platforms, if not the biggest part. It's going to be a wild year.

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