iPad reveals Microsoft Tablet PCs as flawed. What about Google?

First a disclaimer: Apple’s new iPad didn’t meet expectations, either mine, or the folks who I’ve been talking with on Twitter.

If my friends who work with or for Apple and in the press hadn’t built it up as mind blowing it wouldn’t have been disappointing, but this was a case where expectations got too big and what showed up didn’t meet them. Come on, no radically new way to interact? No Flash? No full OS? No Camera? No Verizon?

I was expecting a 10.0 and an 8.7 showed up.

But if you compare it to what I would have given Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer at CES (I would have scored that a 4.9, mostly because they showed clips of a really cool new Halo coming later this year) then it blows away the competition (which I expected when I wrote about Steve Ballmer’s Tablet bumbles last night).

Watch Financial Times’ first hands on video and you get a sense of why it is so much better than Microsoft’s tablets, though. Apple delivered a consistent and deep touch experience.

But, now, where does today’s announcements leave Google and Microsoft?

I had Google’s Don Dodge (developer advocate) over to watch the Apple announcements today, and I saw several places where Apple was trying to limit Google’s ability to grow. Maps, calendar, Keynote (presentation software) and email on the iPad are all very pretty (we’ll see how good they are when we actually are able to use a device for more than 10 minutes) and compete very effectively against Google’s current offerings.

And against Microsoft I now see that Apple has just eviscerated Microsoft’s mobile strategy with a family of products that will be hard for Microsoft to compete against. But the damage to Microsoft goes further. I see Apple now going after the Xbox and putting a wall around Microsoft’s home entertainment dreams so it won’t be able to grow much further.

My sons, already, are using iPhones to play games and watch videos more and more and the iPad will continue that trend. It’s clear to me, though, that Xbox has largely tapped out the home console market and will see slowing growth over next year or two and I know Microsoft has built a team around Zune to go after mobile entertainment (IE, a portable Xbox).

If Microsoft doesn’t get that shipped soon Apple will use the iPad to shore up its leverage with developers like Tapulous, who are building games for iPhone, and will ensure a whole range of games will only show up on Apple’s mobile devices and not on anything Microsoft will do. Microsoft must be very concerned by that.

Back to Google. I think the Chrome OS will prove very interesting as Google comes back against Apple with a device that costs less (Chrome OS is cheaper on hardware than Apple’s OS is, and also is cheaper in licensing fees, so I expect to see Chrome OS-based devices for around $200, instead of the $500 that Apple’s iPad starts at.

That’s where I expect to see major clashes over the next year as Google and Apple try to lock up movie, books, magazines, newspapers, and other media to make their systems better than the others. My predictions of how Google will respond? Look at Chrome OS and watch for new devices that compete with Apple head on. Look at Google Voice to be built onto. Look for Google Maps to even further extend their lead in the industry. Look for Google to come out with a microblogging competitor to Twitter and Facebook that will wrap up everyone’s experiences. Finally, look for Google and Apple to get into bidding wars over companies like Siri (wait until you see what they’ve done next week).

So, we’ve seen how Steve Jobs is setting the trends for the industry. I can’t wait to see how Google puts together its machine to compete.

One hint? There was no talk of wireless synching between iPhone and iPad. Why not? Compare to when I got my Google Nexus One phone. I entered in my email address and all my apps magically appeared. THAT gives you a hint of how Google is going to hit at Apple.

Oh, and one other weakness Apple has? Apple is clueless about social software. Google isn’t all that great either, but it is a world ahead of Apple. So, look at Google to make some major social networking moves this year to make its ecosystem a lot more interesting to the Facebook generation.

Onward, now that all the hype is done and you’ve seen it, any other ideas? I’m off to meet with iPhone game developers to get their reactions, talk to you later after I get home.

To answer Michael Gartenberg’s question, I see Microsoft as a solid loser in today’s announcements and a decent pitch has just been thrown over the plate in Google’s direction, so we’ll see if they can hit it out of the park or will Google whiff it?

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

45 thoughts on “iPad reveals Microsoft Tablet PCs as flawed. What about Google?

  1. I watched the video, and read the article… I still don't get it. Where is the flaw. I see the flaws with the iPad. I love the video where the guy says it's a 4:3 1024×768 **VGA** display…but the star trek movie is in 720 hd. LOL on that one. wow… I get to watch letterbox on a 9 inch screen. This isn't a game changer, it's a limited nitch consumer desire gear. Move along, not much to see here.

  2. I watched the video, and read the article… I still don't get it. Where is the flaw. I see the flaws with the iPad. I love the video where the guy says it's a 4:3 1024×768 **VGA** display…but the star trek movie is in 720 hd. LOL on that one. wow… I get to watch letterbox on a 9 inch screen. This isn't a game changer, it's a limited nitch consumer desire gear. Move along, not much to see here.

  3. Smith…
    iWorks can open/write Office docs. Everyone I know on a Mac that requires that function uses iWorks as it's far cheaper than Office.
    As to some of your other points, I'betting we've only seen a small reveal, one snapshot and the panorama is yet to be filled in or stitched together.

  4. One thing I can't seem to get out of my mind here – is that, who is this actually pitched at? Take the iPhone / iPod crowd..they already have a device which does or will do, everything this can. A 10″ screen isn't that portable and they have already laid out a significant amount for a media device which reads books, plays games and either makes calls or does Skype.

    Will this market find the device a must-have? Some but not all is my guess.

    Now take Netbook users – this isn't MS office (PC or MAC) enabled and netbooks are. Where will opening attachments work outside of Google docs / Zoho etc… Still not perfect.

    Then let's look at casual users – better suited of course but they will have to tie into iTunes and the whole ecosystem to get the most out of the device. Will they be that bothered? Possibly.

    MAC users / wannabees – finally one group whom I believe this is mainly aimed at, without a doubt! The whole ecosystem is pitched askew from iPhone users due to the main sell was “it's a phone..” and iPod touch users who can whip it out [ahem] on the bus and play a game for 10 mins, watch a video or mess about with music discreetly. This isn't discreet.
    MAC advocates will love the UI, kill for the keyboard dock and generally use it to it's limits on a daily basis. It introduces the user into MAC specific software i.e. iWork; and I'm sure there will be more to come from this direction.

    In my honest view, apple have managed to create a niche product which is expensive; despite the entry level model – 16GB isn't anything special when talking movies, music and book etc.; and sort of just missed the intention of reaching non-apple customers because they have an apple-ecosystem centric opinion that 'all will buy if it has an apple on it'

    I'm certain it will sell well but there are other products out there – let's hope some serious competition can make it through the apple-halo effect

  5. The iPad will wireless sync with your iCouch and iBed, but you won't be able to do it in a standing position. It doesn’t replace your laptop, your netbook, your smartphone, your handheld console and your ebook reader and it's not a tablet computer, isn't it amazing? :)

  6. I don't believe so, it will have a fully functioning OS that anyone can find useful but the learning curve will be a bit higher. Think Android vs iPhone OS…

    I just feel that if the iPad was meant to save newspapers and magazines it will most definitely not do that in its current form and publishers should not be so excited. Gamers don't read newspapers and aren't loyal to magazines.

    If Google can tap into the business market and not worry about what's “cool” like Apple does very successfully then consumers will have a choice of two devices that are meant to serve a different purpose. Choice is always good for consumers especially when two products vary in significant ways.

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  8. Wow, after reading this I am convinced you are just bitter over something that happened when you worked for MS. First of all, the disappointment as CES is they didn't show anything. The IPad was just a flat out failure to impress. I can't even rate this a 6.0 I think Apple really hit a foul ball with this one. Can you even really explain why the MS tablet is flawed when we don't even know what it will do? Apple just gave them a gift and they can now hit a home run. … and comparing XBOX to this IPod touch super size me device is just stupid. I am sure it is a nice device and everything but nobody but Apple fans are overly impressed.

  9. One thing we're missing though is it's not about the device. The iPhone isn't that great, yet has been hugely successful.

    Because of the AppStore.

    It's the amazing ingenuity of the App developers that really made the iPhone successful. How many apps do you have on your iPhone that you can't live without?

    The same will happen on the iPad (haven't found a woman yet who likes that name). Developers will come out with awesome apps that we can't even imagine. And when we see them, then we will want an iPad.

  10. I think Robert is right that what was missing from the announcement overall was something truly ground-breaking & innovative, as Guy Kawasaki would say, 10 x better, NOT 10% better. Yes, the iPad is sleek, with the apparent speed of rendering being one of the under-reported strengths.

    But there were no real mind-benders, like a novel touch-based input like some had hoped for in light of prior acquisitions, no custom gesture triggered macros, no handwriting recog, nothing.

    Robert rightly points out Google's innovative thinking on voice recog, GoogleVoice voicemail transcription, etc.

    If you wanted to go even more mind-blowing, why no OS features that do away with the old desktop paradigm, in favor of things like OS built-in mindmapping, connecting things by circling & drawing connections in on the touchscreen, asf.

    Some of this could have addressed the Web curation issue that Robert is big on.

    As it stands, it's an improvement over the Kindle, and most netbooks, but not by enough. Make it 10 TIMES better. Apple has to hope that their developer community bails them out with truly innovative stuff.

    And yes, magazine publisher probably love the iPad. Come to think of it, they may have had too much influence in the design thought process. Too much old paradigm.

    As it stands, I'd at best give it 7 out of 10.

  11. Hey tacanderson – Closed has always won in gaming and that’s a fairly long running story.
    There’s probably more examples in the consumer space too. The tech industry is going consumer electronics, new rules apply. Geeks need not apply.

  12. Good point about displays carrying around computers. For some reason though most people don't go for modular designs, it seems to overtax their object permanence needs, etc.

    I personally find the overall size of the iPad to be a bit of a turn-off, with the large bezel/edge, it's bigger than a 10″ netbook. It's magazine sized, when I would have preferred book size (like the Kindle with more screen real-estate).

    As it is now, the iPad is almost the size of 6(!) iPhones, rather than the 4x factor I was hoping for. Now maybe in Gen.2 they will be able to reduce the size a bit more (assuming they needed it to hide the innards), keeping the screen size about the same.

    As it is, it really seems to be designed to be a household/living room/family item. All of this subject to review when holding one for the first time…

    BTW, given the largish form-factor, I can definitely see why they didn't include a camera: Too awkward to point, too much panning from small movements.

    A camera as part of a dock, keyboard or no, would be nice for teleconferencing, but that requires the thing to sit stably and upright.

  13. All of these comparisons between Apple, Microsoft & Google. (disclosure: I work for a company that represnts msft, among others but this is all my opinion)

    Scoble, Apple has a lock on nothing. No more than MS does or Google does. I used to expect a real pragmatic view from you but you've seemed to have lost much of that this year. I know you're a fanboi but really? Yeah Apple has some cool products, many of which I use but it's easier than ever to switch and today was not an 8.

    Closed never wins. Ever. When has closed ever won over the long term? Yeah Apple has some app developers but in the grand scheme of things, that's nothing. One of Jobs last points about Apple is the only place that can do the batteries, silicon, hardware and software is a point of pride. That's why Apple was excited today because they could do something no one else does, not because it's a better user experience. Today Apple lost their way IMO.

    I agree that they've left a huge opening for Google but don't count out the other hardware players. HP and others are doing a lot of custom Linux and you of anyone should know that MS is the most tenacious company out there. They're willing to invest a lot for a long time.

    Today showed me how hard this device and the future is and that it's open to anyone. No one has the lead here.

  14. Didn't this intro seem… odd? Jobs lingered over the technical specs, listing hardware features off one by one. The iWork section was awfully long.

    This presentation sounded like it was the “alternate plan B.” I suspect the rumors about TV content negotiations falling through the night before might be true.

    1. Would agree on Plan B for a couple of sections. The New York Times was fairly weak, bet McGrawHill was suppose to present and when their dipshit CEO leaked last night Stevo wrote him out of the script.

  15. Wow, one of the most clueless articles I’ve read on the iPhail yet. 8.7, Seriously? It’s maybe a 2 out of 10 maxipads :ugh: This is a easy win for MS if the Courier comes to fruition. Oh and the xbox loosing ground to this? You are seriously kidding, right? That made me almost puke I was laughing so hard

  16. I don't know Robert. I would give it a 7. No SD card? No Flash? I can't belive you won't be able to watch content from HULU on this device. Probably won't be a long line for this device. The internets aside from Apple fanboi sights are not exactly on fire with excitement.

  17. “No Flash….” what do you mean???? When we can watch videos from youtube? all videos on youtube are in .flv format. And you are using flash player to it. Though not the full version of flash player that we use in a computer, though

  18. I feel many folks are being a little short sighted here. This piece of hardware is amazing in many ways except one, why no flash? that seems absurd to me! You are all saying about it only being a big I this that or the other but you know what, no other company has an I this that or the other so just by that yard stick alone surely its a wonderful ground breaking device (if not earth shattering) Do you think Apple does not already have the blue print for the next Ipad in the can? Sure they have, it has to be phased to get most revenue.
    The name Ipad does sound like a womens product though, silly name! I watched Endgadgets reaaly god live blog at the audotorium today and many thanks go tothem for that but I could not believe when Jobs called it ‘magical’ the Endgadget man de-cried this and said “magical” it “does not even make phone calls”!!!! Why the hell would apple bite in to the Iphone market? What a silly comment to make. Any way. glad its all over. I was just about hyper ventilating!

  19. When has Apple EVER released a first-up product that didn’t disappoint because of the things left out?

    We always get into a lather about upcoming new products, expecting them to be just like we want, and then are always let down because they have left out some feature we think is important.

    And yet, we do it again and again. We’ll never learn. :)

    That said, I didn’t see any compelling reason to get the iPad (yet!). I have an iPhone and MacBook Pro 13″. I just don’t need a middle device unless it duplicates more functionality of my MBP so I could leave the MBP at home more to be my grunt machine. Wouldn’t I just LOVE to run Photoshop and Illustrator and InDesign on that baby! Maybe Adobe will come to the party somehow. Then I’ll get interested.

  20. If Google released a SuperNexus tablet targeted towards business users, that would give them a huge lead in this space, imo. Chrome OS, Google Everything, VoiP/voice/phone features, GPS, front-facing camera (!), etc…

    It seems like this device is targeted at gamers mainly and they don't effectively bridge the gap when trying to fulfill the needs of the business user. We'll see what version 2 and 3 bring though.

    Seems like something got lost in identifying who they were going to target here. To me, Apple is to gamers and everyday people as Google is to businesses and more hi-tech users. That will be the differentiating factor I think but things change too fast to predict effectively anymore :)

    (can't wait for Siri, it looks very interesting)

  21. “There was no talk of wireless synching”. iTunes sync is not wireless. Contacts, Calendars, Notes, Bookmarks, etc. Sure, there are complicated technical alternatives to MobileMe but it's more walls and fences from Apple.

    1. Does one actually need wireless syncing? I never have. I need to plug the device in to recharge and it can sync away then – never been a problem. Would be nice if there was an app that let me access my hub computer back at the office in case I needed something else though.

  22. You are wrong. Microsoft already has launched hardware where you can only get content thru it – never heard of the Xbox? No, there was no uproar. Okay, I take that back. Last year when up to a million people hacked their Xboxes, MS banned them from the Xbox service. At least Apple has never banned people who hack their iPhones – Apple tells them to reinstall the iPhone software – problem solved.

    Microsoft has every right to do what they want on their hardware – same as Apple.

  23. Everything is synced to iTunes. If I replace my lost iPod touch, just plug the new one into my computer and it is fully backed up. No MobileMe required.

  24. Just because Chrome is free doesn’t mean Google or its hardware partners can or will undercut the iPad price – They certainly didn’t in the phone arena so far. And, it will be very hard for Google to come even close to the Apple ecosystem, it’s not just the device. It’s also hard for a left brain company like Google to pull off all the right brain stuff required. Listening to Don Dodge just reenforced that impression.

    The reaction or expectations of us geeks has little relevance to the consumer market as a whole. I know at least 6 non-geeks in my family that will be trading up from their iPod-Touches just for the casual gaming.

  25. Microsoft's big Xbox play is Natal, which the iPad can't do. The jury's certainly out on how well they'll execute on that front. There's enough innovation in the concept to (just) differentiate it from a Wii rip off I think it largely depends on software and as much as they are a software company, doubts remain over whether they can make the “Wii Sports” for Natal.

    I don't think Microsoft have to worry about their hardcore gaming market which is unlikely to want to shift “down” to the iPad. Their problem is the traditional enthusiast gamers aren't the segment that's growing and if Natal doesn't work, they're going to miss out on the action leaving the Xbox to cater for it's hardcore niche.

    As for the iPad itself, I agree it's down to false expectations. Most commentators expected a disruptive product like the iPod or iPhone to emerge. This hasn't happened. The iPad is a sustaining innovation of the iPhone/Touch and in my opinion, a bridge to move new Apple customers (who've bought an iPod or iPhone over the years) upstream to the higher end Apple computing products.

    This can be successful because the world today has changed. There are a large group of consumers who have broadband/wireless in there homes for which a notebook or even netbook overshoot their requirements. i.e. they just want to do photos, browse, facebook, social gaming, music, youtube, e-mail in comfort on their sofa with a social friendly device.

    I think you mentioned a figure of 10% on your video. They'll convert that many in spades and augment it with the hype and geeks like us who can see specific use cases (such as the car, etc.)

    As for Google, can they get behind a device and execute on it to consumers to the degree that Apple can? Interesting challenge and I think the extent to which Chrome/Android will fragment with so many different hardware platforms makes that a lot harder.

  26. Agreed – this is a tremendous opportunity for Google to turn the tides and become the “game changer”. The hardware is deficient in several areas, and cloud-based concept for a cloud-based device is non-existent. Not even Apple's ecosystem and fan base will be able to keep them propped up as leaders in this space. And Microsoft? No surprises there, as they haven't come up with anything innovative since Windows (the original version).

  27. The iPhone OS's “walled-garden” is very disappointing.

    If Microsoft announced a tablet where you could only install apps by buying them through Microsoft, it would either be ignored, or there would be an uproar.

    Lack of multitasking is just huge.

    I would love such a device that runs Android.
    In the mean time, I'll go back to using my CLIQ for on-the-go and on-the-couch consumption.

  28. The iPhone OS's “walled-garden” is very disappointing.

    If Microsoft announced a tablet where you could only install apps by buying them through Microsoft, it would either be ignored, or there would be an uproar.

    Lack of multitasking is just huge.

    I would love such a device that runs Android.
    In the mean time, I'll go back to using my CLIQ for on-the-go and on-the-couch consumption.

  29. Comparisons to the Xbox are wholly overwrought, the powerful quality of games coming out, plus Xbox Live and Project Natalisms, will keep a touch-appy semi-game system light years away. iPad isn't going to be the Halo/Army of 2, 40 days system of choice.

    And this isn't really a Tablet, it's just a big iPod Touch. I saw zero mention of Ink'ing or anything that would put it in a Tablet category. MacBook Tablet with new OSX Tabeltified UI…more what the hope was.

    Where's the webcam/vid camera? Geesh, that will be a deal breaker for some.

    Cool, and all and will get one, but like barely 30% of what I hoped for.

  30. I am still looking for an easy to use device for my totally computer illiterate parents who live on the other side of the planet… I’d like a device with build in internet connectivity, total protection against viruses, where they can browse the web, read/ write email, view pictures, socially connect with me via the net… and video conference!

    Hm… Why did apple omit a camera in the iPad? Seems like a major oversight to me. Or might this be a feature they push out with the final shipping device? The iPad Simulator has a “Take Picture” in the “add photo” section of the Contacts app. I couldn’t be a left over from the iPhone because the interface is iPad formated…

    either way, I think this device will provide an integrated internet experience currently not available on any other device. This is build for people that don’t have a computer… vs. the Microsoft approach which is building an experience that is a computer.

    1. I’m betting at some point they’ll have a camera but am wondering how you’d aim it, it’s not as small as a camera/iPhone etc. so more to hold up and hold steady.

  31. What I really want is ONE device that works in all contexts. Why can't someone build a small box with the power of the iPhone; plugs into a small screen for you pocket, a larger screen (with more storage) for your couch, and a dock with more horsepower, screen space, input devices, for the desktop? Why must we make every display carry around its own computer?

  32. It is a media rich device, if I have choice between paying $489 for KindleDX or $499 for iPad, the choice is clear for me personally – I am getting iPad as my new e-reader (all other extras included in an iPad are simply an amazing bonus at this point).

  33. Poor microsoft, missing the mark completely. I was not overly impressed with the iPad. Its going to be very interesting to see what google next steps are. Exciting times in the tech world!

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