“That tablet thing? Yeah, we’ll get back to you on that.” That’s a crude but fairly accurate encapsulation of the attitude Microsoft, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices have toward the iPad and the tablet market in general.
Why the cavalier attitude? Before I defer to the opinion of an IDC analyst I interviewed (below), here’s one pretty obvious reason I’ll put forward. All three companies look at their revenue streams — traditional PC hardware and software on laptops, desktops, and servers — and come to the conclusion that the tablet is a marginal market. A deceptively accurate conclusion, because at this point in time — and even 12 months out — the tablet is marginal compared with the gargantuan laptop, desktop, and server markets.
An interesting take, but I disagree. I think Microsoft and Intel are both taking the iPad’s success extremely seriously. It may be a small market, as of today, but the trend line is heading north at a very steep angle. I think it’s a case where you can’t take what Microsoft and Intel say about it at face value. Intel has no processor to power an iPad-class devic. Microsoft has no OS to run an iPad-class device. Most worrying for these companies may not be the iPad itself, but the fact that iPad competitors — scant though they are, as of today — aren’t running Intel processors or Microsoft software.
I wrote about this yesterday.Intel ahs no processor and MS has no OS to compete. Apple developed an incredibly great OS with OSX, providing them with a tool that scales across all form factors from mobile to server.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has a multitude of different OS, one for each form factor. They finally got one for a cell phone 4 years after Apple. How many years before they have an iPad one?
Intel’s current processors do not have the power or battery life to compete. They may have something ready next year but when will it be available in bulk.
Look at this tablet PC just released, with Intel’s processor and Windows 7. It weighs 2.5 pounds, a pound more than the iPad. And it has a 3 hour battery life, compared to the iPad’s 10.hours.
And, interestingly, it has sold out. This may well be because Apple has soaked up almost all the components needed for such devices. Others may not get access to them until the suppliers build new plants.
One has to expect that Apple has not been sitting on the sidelines developing its own silicon further, enhancing the operating system and working on new form factors.
And neither of these two companies seem to really have a cohesive strategy to compete with Apple’s FaceTime when it begins to eclipse the need for cell phone companies.