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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The iPad is king of the tablets because on most Android tabs, there isn't an app for that

22

July

screen_shot_2011-07-22_at_2.28.39_am.pngRecent sales reports confirm that the Apple iPad continues to lead the tablet computer revolution, owning more than 60 percent of the tablet market. And it's not just consumers who are investing in the iPad. Good Technology, a company that manages mobile device deployment for Fortune 100 and 500 companies, issued a report detailing second-quarter tablet trends that show more than 95 percent of all tablet activations were iPads. And although we continue to hear reports that the Android platform is dominant for smartphones, this report shows that for the first time iPad activations outnumbered Android smartphone activations, by almost three percent.

Meanwhile the market continues to flood with new Android tablets by Motorola, Samsung, HTC, Vizio and others. Most run the tablet-optimized Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system, although some run earlier Android versions, like 2.2 Froyo and 2.3 Gingerbread which were designed for use on phones. Android tablet sales are on the rise and this report at Sci-Tech Today says Android tablets now hold a 30 percent market share.

Some of the new Android tablets, like the Motorola Xoom and the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, are excellent pieces of hardware and could/should be serious rivals for the iPad. This comparison chart below, from AndroidTablets.net, compares features between the iPad 2 and several popular Honeycomb tabs. But the hardware alone is not enough in a market that is now driven by the innovation of the latest and greatest apps.

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I have a Motorola Xoom and it's really a beautiful tablet. It has many of the same advanced features as the iPad 2 and some features are much better (see chart above). The Android Honeycomb interface is very robust with excellent features. I have the Xoom so I can test and review Android apps, but unfortunately I don't get to do that very often. Why? Because new apps for the Honeycomb operating system are few and far between. Currently only about 200 Honeycomb-optimized apps are available. And to make matters worse, many Froyo and Gingerbread apps will not tun in Honeycomb.

Meanwhile over at the Apple ranch, iPad users can feast on more than 100,000 optimized apps and many of the iPhone apps will run on the iPad too. Do you see what's wrong with this picture?

What are the Android Honeycomb developers doing, or even better, where are they? If you use an Android phone it makes sense to buy an Android tablet so you can share your apps across devices. But more and more people are plunking down their hard-earned cash for Honeycomb tablets after being wowed by the hardware in the store. When they get home the wow factor wears off quickly when they realize many of their favorite Android apps are not available or won't run in Honeycomb.

This is a sad state of affairs because the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, LG G-Slate and others are worthy competitors for the iPad 2 and a larger slice of the tablet pie. Honeycomb tablet owners are getting nothing but crumbs right now, however, with no indication that there will be a sudden and rapid increase in Honeycomb app production. And now the Android world is excited with the release of the developer's kit for the next Android tablet OS, named ice cream sandwich. Hello? Can we finish one dessert before we start on the next one please?

screen_shot_2011-07-22_at_2.11.16_am.pngConsidering all of this, I really don't recommend investment in any of the Honeycomb Android tablets right now, unless all you want to do is surf the web, check the weather, use Google Earth and check your mail. The iPad is a much better choice and I'm not saying that because I'm an Apple fan. Another alternative would be to get one of the smaller Android tablets that run Froyo or Gingerbread you will have access to thousands of Android phone apps. Check out the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, the HTC Flyer or the new Vizio 8-inch tablet. Shoot, I made my wife's Nook Color into a full Gingerbread tablet that boots off of an SD card and it runs more apps than my Motorola Xoom. There is something seriously wrong with that.

If Android tablets are to survive and flourish, Google needs to get busy and get the Android developers cranking on the apps. You can bet Apple will not slow down and the gap is so wide now, it may be game-over already.

[Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 2:31am]

    

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