The New York Times reported this weekend that Google has plans to not only compete with the iPhone, but with the iPad as well in the form of a new Android-based tablet.
Eric E. Schmidt, chief executive of Google, told friends at a recent party in Los Angeles about the new device, which would exclusively run the Android operating system. People with direct knowledge of the project — who did not want to be named because they said they were unauthorized to speak publicly about the device — said the company had been experimenting in “stealth mode” with a few publishers to explore delivery of books, magazines and other content on a tablet.
Nokia is also exploring releasing a tablet device, while Microsoft is reportedly toying with the idea of a Microsoft branded tablet as well. Over the past few months, details and concept videos touting Microsoft Courier have emerged, but Microsoft engineers interviewed by the Times note that they’ve run into trouble regarding the battery life required to power 2 separate displays. The report, though, notes that Microsoft hopes to get Courier out by 2011. But naturally, there are still some internal roadblocks to traverse.
And internally the company is struggling to identify the right market. At first the idea was to market the Courier for designers and architects, but lately the company is thinking of a broader market of consumers and so would include e-books, magazines and other media content on the device.
With maybe Google as an exception, all of these iPad imitators from the likes of Microsoft, Nokia, and HP are destined to fail because they were born out of Apple-envy, and not out of any objective determination that a tablet device actually makes sense and fits into a strategic product roadmap. These companies, for all intents and purposes, are playing defensively while Apple, meanwhile, continues to put the ball through the hoop.