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Are iPad Rivals Really That Bad? - RIM, Microsoft & Google Getting It Wrong

RIM co-CEO Jim Basillie made the astute comment this week that: "No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform. It's almost never done, and it's way harder than you realize. This transition is where tech companies go to die." This is the smartest thing I've heard from a RIM CEO in a long time, but it is a surprisingly risky statement given its current predicament. Even more so considering the failed transition of BlackBerry OS for the PlayBook means it will launch comically without core apps like email, calendar and contacts. The result is you will need both a BlackBerry and a PlayBook linked together for basic functionality and it is already a year behind. Yes RIM is an example of an iPad rival being that bad.

Windows? For now Microsoft won't even try. Well it will put Windows 7 on tablets, but for a touch based device that amounts to roughly the same thing. Its tablet strategy started more than a decade ago and it will still likely be at least three generations behind the iPad when Microsoft makes an initial repost in 2012.

Gartner lists Microsoft in "other operating systems", a platform grouping it feels will have under 0.2 per cent of the market by 2015. That's ludicrous, but it is another example of an iPad rival hamstringing itself and being that bad.

What about Google? Again it comes down to a failed transition. "Smartphone users will want to buy a tablet that runs the same operating system as their smartphone," argues Garter research vice president Carolina Milanesi. "This is so that they can share applications across devices as well as for the sense of familiarity the user interfaces will bring."

This is the heart of it. Honeycomb may look ideal for a tablet form factor, but for mass take up it looks alien – perhaps too much like a desktop OS – and app support remains weak. Specifications on the likes of Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Motorola Xoom look impressive, but we're back to the old battle the competition used to play with the original iPhone and iPhone 3G and they lost that until the software improved. The iPad uses an OS which will soon launch its fifth generation. Honeycomb is v1.0. If it is true the Xoom has sold a mere 100 000 units since launch seven weeks ago then it is further proof why Android is likely to take such a long time to gather momentum.

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