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Is It All Up to Android?

In Microsoft's case the company appears to have a blindness towards the obvious solution: Windows Phone 7. Despite the fact that the sliding tile interface would be much better suited to a tablet than a phone, Ballmer insists Windows 7 is the company's tablet platform of choice. Besides Microsoft execs have told me you don't call a platform Windows Phone if you mean it to go elsewhere, something I'd argue is both short sighted and foolhardy. I'll tell you a better name: Windows Mobile…

Likewise RIM, despite having made great strides in the consumer space in recent years, lacks momentum. Crucially its BlackBerry OS hasn't proved versatile enough to transpose from smartphones to the PlayBook as well. Instead it has had to build QNX, a new platform, which means app support will have to start from scratch – a huge setback.

Meanwhile WebOS could work, but HP seems disinterested in smartphones – a key component in creating an appealing mobile ecosystem and it is far too soon for Meego which appears to be stalling after early praise. Does everything Nokia touches right now fall apart?

As for Android, it may be the one platform capable of giving iOS a run for its money. Certainly its open source approach and adoption by bucket loads of manufacturers suggests it will overtake iPad sales before too long. Then again, it doesn't mean Google is getting everything right. Honeycomb (above) looks good, but unlike iOS Google felt the need to rip Android in two to make the tablet transition. This isn't as drastic as RIM, but it means there are question marks over app support and how/when/if Android will stitch itself back together over time.

In addition, Google has publicly admitted it is less than pleased with sales figures for premium apps and – if the iPad is any indication – tablet apps tend to come in at a princely premium compared to their phone equivalents. Apple simply split its App Store into tablet and phone apps, I'm not convinced Google needed to do anything different. Still with PC shipments hit by iPad sales Android partners have little choice but to back Google's decision in order to recover lost revenue.

All of which is to say I still don't get tablets. I get why the iPad is popular and I believe qualified arguments can be made both for and against it, but the times when tablets are preferable to the convenience of a phone or the power of a portable laptop seem few and far between. Each to their own.

So yes, the commentators are right. 2011 does look set to be the year of the tablet and after nearly 100 models at CES, there will be many more at Mobile World Congress next month. That said it will also be the year of the tablet casualty because most will fail miserably and with the iPad 2 due to be unveiled in the next few months it looks like we'll be exposed to more "magical" marketing and a very smug Steve Jobs for some time to come…

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