Tablet Showdown: Google & Apple Stoke the Speculation */?> Tablet Showdown: Google & Apple Stoke the Speculation

Posted by · January 5, 2012 5:06 pm

Talk of what to expect in the tech world for 2012 has consumers buzzing with anticipation. Among those expectations are the overtaking of Internet Explorer by Google Chrome, the debut of Windows 8, and the expanded use of HTML5.

Meanwhile, Google and Apple have plans of their own for 2012, specifically in the tablet market. However, while one company is going through the standard, rumor-filled development phase before releasing the third generation of its widely popular tablet, the other allowed the speculation to spin out of control to the point that nobody is certain what kind of tablet to expect.

Apple Leaks iPad 3 Features, Prepares for Fierce Competition

While the release of the next-generation iPad may seem like business as usual, there is reason to believe that Apple is going to use the release of the iPad 3 as a launching point to begin competing more directly with the likes of the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, and other bargain tablets. Earlier this week, a DigiTimes report leaked information leading many to believe that Apple may continue producing the iPad 2 after the iPad 3 debuts and simply lower to cost to fit into the $199-$399 entry-level tablet price range.

“If Apple drops the iPad [2] price to $299, it could seriously affect the non-Apple camp’s pricing strategy and even Amazon’s Kindle could be affected,” the report suggested.

This rumor’s validity, of course, relies on the factuality of yet another rumor suggesting that Apple is planning to release two versions of the iPad 3, allowing Apple to have an iPad that fits all three price tiers—high-end, mid-range and entry-level.

Amidst the talk of what Apple might do to broaden the iPad’s affordability, talk of the improvements that will actually make the iPad 3 worth purchasing appeared to fall by the wayside. That is, until now.

Reports from Apple rumor sites Cult of Mac and 9to5Mac received word from iLounge’s Jeremy Horwitz that the next-generation iPad will come with a few feature enhancements. First, the front-facing camera is said to support FaceTime HD video chat. The new iPad will also feature Retina Display, an A6 chips and other new components, which will make the tablet about 3mm thicker—a rather anticlimactic detail, I know. Lastly, the iPad 3’s back camera will allegedly be the 8-megapixel one that is already featured on the iPhone 4S. Nevertheless, Cult of Mac’s John Brownlee says he doubts the 8MP camera rumor will come to fruition, arguing that “iPad’s don’t need great rear cameras.”

Whether any of these rumors—including the one about a $299 iPad 2—turn out to be true, however, won’t be certain until the iPad 3 launches in the spring (likely around March, if the iPad 2 release is any indicator).

Google Might Make a Tablet…And Incite Android Fratricide

Meanwhile, Apple rival Google has allowed speculation to almost become destructive as little more than a roughly translated Italian newspaper has led consumers to believe that a Google tablet is coming in 2012. Back in December, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt allegedly hinted at a Google tablet that would debut within the next six months.

Since then, Google has remained strangely silent, failing to unequivocally confirm or deny what its own Executive Chairman said.

Unsurprisingly, the lack of information has begotten the next best thing: speculation, and lots of it. Still unsure of whether Schmidt was speaking of a solo Google venture or yet another partnership, it’s difficult to know which end is up when trying to sort through the rumors that have made their way into the headlines. Since the launch of its Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) operating system for both tablets and smartphones, it has been argued that the timing couldn’t be more perfect for a high-quality tablet that’s wholly Google—and perhaps even challenge the iPad’s dominance.

But that’s where things get confusing, well, more confusing.

After DigiTimes released a report Thursday recounting Schmidt’s less-than-lucid revelation, the idea of an iPad rival from Google quickly buckled under its own weight. According to the “sources” the report consulted, the Google-branded tablet (allegedly to be unveiled in March or April) will actually be a 7-inch tablet with the Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. And here’s the kicker: it will be priced below the $199 price tag of the Amazon Kindle Fire.

So, if I’ve got this straight, Google is allegedly going to bypass the opportunity to create an already highly anticipated, iPad-rivaling tablet in order to compete with another Android tablet, making its success in one area dependent on its failure in another. If that’s not a cannibalistic business strategy, I don’t know what is.