This Week in Tablets: Windows 8 confirmation, iPad 3 speculation—and WebOS confabulation?

February 11, 2012

Winner: Apple

It’s still an iPad world. That can’t be denied. In retrospect, we should have known big news about the iPad 3 was coming.

International editor Doug Drinkwater’s iPad 3 rumors story was a huge hit with readers (and with Google, whose importance can’t be understated for a media start-up) two Thursdays ago. I’m come to find that results like this are like a strong wind before a storm.

At the same time, the torrent of iPad 3 rumors and speculation felt like it was reaching a crescendo. No surprise here—it’s hard for any big company to keep such a highly anticipated announcement tight. Even Apple.

So now, it sounds like we’re in a final countdown towards the iPad 3, with an announcement pending in early March. That’s great. The only real question here is: How many iPad 3s is Apple going to sell. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Apple goes 30+ million in the first quarter of the iPad’s release.

Incidentally, there’s an opportunity here for businesses of all sizes. The release of an iPad 3 means the price of iPad 2s will drop, drop, drop.

Winner: Microsoft

In a week where the iPad 3 dominated the tablet discussion, Microsoft successfully held its own around Windows 8.

First, the company officially announced that the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 would make its debut at Mobile World Congress on February 29. Then: Win8 chief David Sinofsky blogged about ARM compatibility and the definite presence of native MS Office apps in the ARM version of the OS.

Both stories got plenty of play from mainstream news, tech journos, tablet evangelists, and the consumer gadget crowd.It’s hard to overstate how big a deal Windows 8 is. For Microsoft it’s the most important OS release the company has staged since Windows 95.

For tablet strategists, analysts, and prognosticators, it’s the final piece of the puzzle. When Windows 8 tablets are released, the circle will be complete. For now.

For IT managers, it brings up the usual questions, with an interesting wrinkle. Do you deploy Windows 8 across your fleet of desktops? Do you adopt Windows 8 tablets, or do you stick with iPad?

My big question going forward is this: Is MS Office going to be free on ARM Windows devices? Sinofsky didn’t definitely answer the question, and Microsoft’s PR team declined to directly answer the question as well. That probably means no, it will not be free.

Winner: Samsung

By taking the battle directly to Apple via its Thing Called Love Super Bowl ad, Samsung generated considerable buzz around its Galaxy Note phone, which has a decidedly tablet-esque feel.

Even if, as TabTimes News Editor David Needle found, some of the buzz involved some snarky backlash about the phone’s inclusion of a stylus, the end result was considerable awareness about the product itself. Well played, Samsung.

Who's the loser? Not who you might think

It would be easy to peg RIM as the week’s loser. The PlayBook’s upcoming 2.0 OS update is pending in the next week or so, but the iPad 3 and Windows 8 news drowned any buzz.

Still though, these days, the absence of bad news is good news for RIM. Better to stay under the radar and surprise people then be lambasted for inadequacies and mismanagement. And I think PlayBook 2.0 is actually going to surprise people.

So who’s the week’s loser? HP gets the nod. While the rest of the world was talking about Windows, the iPad 3, and even Android, HP CEO Meg Whitman was talking about WebOS. You know, the mobile OS that the company cancelled and then revived and will soon be releasing for free.

It’s a feel-good story, but if I’m HP, I’m not sure I’d want one of the key talking points around my company to be about an OS that’s 1) pretty much disgraced, and 2) not going to generate any revenue for my company.

The big question for HP is this: When will the company get over the WebOS debacle and move on?

The Longshot: Mozilla

My sleeper for the week is Mozilla’s pending multi-platform App Marketplace, which we shed light upon this Wednesday. The notion that Mozilla might open up an OS-agnostic HTML5-based app store that anyone can download from or upload to is fascinating. Small

The only real question here is will developers be interests in porting their HTML5 wares to off-brand app marketplace? This one’s hard to forecast. But hey, if Whitman thinks WebOS has a chance of winning, then Mozilla certainly does? Stranger things have happened in the world of open source software.

For what it’s worth

Next week, we have some interesting stories planned. I have an ultra-affordable tablet from Idolian in hand. I’ve been testing it for the last 7 days, and I’m ready to deliver a verdict.

We’ll also have an extensive iBooks Author How-To story, an interesting profile piece on Verifone, and a very interesting and opinionated analysis of why the BYOD scene is going to rapidly wither. It’s not my opinion necessarily, but it’s an interesting argument. 

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