Apple Insider quotes one Wall Street Analyst as saying that the iPad has an "insurmountable lead." Is the Android Honeycomb OS, Xoomed, er, I mean doomed from the start? Like the Android tablet OS, the Android smartphone OS was a bit rough to begin with, but is now comparable in nearly every way. (Yes, it still lacks Netflix and Hulu Plus.) Despite the huge lead enjoyed by Apple’s iOS, Android eventually overcame Apple.
I wouldn’t say that the iPad lead can never be surpassed. Although, arguably the combination of platform and operating system will likely not be matched. By that I mean Android will need to be on several different tablets by different manufacturers. But the Android tablet OS will eventually be as ubiquitous as the smartphone OS. Since app developers are in business to make money, they will eventually see that as an opportunity. Apple lags in technical specifications. But they refuse to distribute an unfinished product.
In contrast, the Xoom came without LTE, without a functioning card slot, and with a price tag like it was a mature product instead of a silicon guinea pig. As much promise as this first-to-market honeycomb tablet enjoys, it is almost laughably devoid of the polished user interface experienced on the iPad 2. When all the bits are working on the Xoom and it can offer comparably polished apps and UI, then it can get away with its pricing.
The Tron-like gray pinstriped “3D effect” is boorishly cartoon-like in comparison to iOS. We’re not going to pay $800 for something that looks like a junior high graphics project. But don’t count Android out, with all the resources of Google at its disposal, Android will come back and come back strong. Google espouses the view that mobile, location-aware search is the future. Apple has demonstrated that tablets are going to play a major role in that space. Google simply can’t afford to neglect the challenge.
However, if Apple wanted to assuredly bury Android on tablets, I would argue that the place to begin would be to offer an Apple version of Google maps and, more importantly, Google Navigation with its turn-by-turn voice directions. If they can offer consumers that convenience and advertisers that location awareness that comes from consumers running around with their GPS switched on, Apple just might stand a chance to make Android cry “Uncle”.