More Companies Try To Compete With Apple's iPad

Originally published on May 4, 2011 9:21 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Welcome back to the program.

RICH JAROSLOVSKY: Thank you.

INSKEEP: And let's just remind people. We're talking about trying to compete with Apple's iPad. We should just describe that. I mean it's about the size of a book. Many people have either bought one or looked over the shoulder at one. But you're putting your fingers on the screen. You're zooming in. You're zooming out. You're seeing great graphics. That sort of thing. What's the competition doing?

JAROSLOVSKY: Well, the competition was waiting to see whether or not the iPad was going to be a big hit last year. And when they figured out it was going to be a big hit, just about every electronics manufacturer began rushing to get a tablet to market. Those are the products that are just now reaching the stores. It takes a while to put these things together, and everybody's going to be comparing themselves with the iPad.

INSKEEP: Do they all fundamentally work the same way, there's not a hard keyboard, it's a touch screen and there's a keyboard that may pop up on the touch screen?

JAROSLOVSKY: That's pretty much it. You know, people are trying to innovate around the hardware a little bit. I spent some time, this week, with a tablet that offered 3D, something called the LG G-Slate from T-Mobile. But pretty much all of them are the same. They are these flat rectangular slabs of glass and plastic and metal, and they all function about the way that a smartphone does, with zooming and touch sensitive and everything else.

INSKEEP: So there's that product, the G-Slate. There's also a product from Sony. How does it compare with the iPad or with anything else?

JAROSLOVSKY: Well, there's not a product yet from Sony. There's an announcement from Sony, which is another aspect of the whole competition in the marketplace right now. A lot of stuff gets announced long before it is actually going to hit the market. The key factor in all this is actually a company that doesn't get mentioned as much but is absolutely critical, and that's Google. Because Google has made a tablet specific version of its Android operating system.

INSKEEP: Mm-hmm.

JAROSLOVSKY: And all the manufacturers that are not Apple have been waiting for the Android operating system that's called Honeycomb. And now that that's out that's really what's fueling a lot of these announcements and a lot of these products that you're now seeing, is they're running this new Google operating system.

INSKEEP: Do you have any doubt that other manufacturers will more or less be able to match what the iPad does?

JAROSLOVSKY: They can match what the iPad does at the moment. The problem is that Apple has a head start. And Apple has a knack for exploiting head starts. So a lot of what we're seeing in the market right now really matches the first iPad, the one that came out in spring of 2010. And meanwhile, Apple has already come out with the iPad 2, which is thinner, lighter, faster. And so what I'm seeing now is that a lot of the devices that are coming across my desk might have been competitive with the first iPad but now they're too heavy or they're a little bit too cumbersome. And meanwhile, Apple has moved the goalposts.

INSKEEP: I'm just thinking through these different trends. Everybody was very focused on cell phones for a while and improving cell phones. Now everybody's focused on tablets and perhaps that will continue for several years. Is there another product on the horizon that is seen as the next eventual giant leap for these kinds of consumer electronics?

JAROSLOVSKY: Well, the real fascinating question to me is whether or not you find - you see companies like Apple essentially tried to take over the living room. And that means making a large screen Apple branded television. And the question is whether Apple can reinvent the TV in your den the way that it's reinvented cell phones and now this invented this tablet form factor.

INSKEEP: Thanks very much.

JAROSLOVSKY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.