Apple had it way too easy last year with the iPad. Of course, it came as a bit of a surprise that the Californians somehow managed to popularise what had previously been seen as a niche - and quite possibly pointless - product.
As such, while the rest of the big names scrambled to develop their supposed iPad beaters, Apple’s competition in 2010 came primarily from Samsung. Having said that, “competition” is probably a bit of a stretch; the 7in Galaxy Tab didn’t really give Apple anything to worry about.
But then came January’s CES, and Mobile World Congress in February. Suddenly everyone was in on the tablet game, and it seemed inevitable that the iPad would lose a significant chunk of the tablet pie it had owned so emphatically.
Alas, that hasn’t really been the case. I say “alas”; I don’t have anything against the iPad per se. I just hoped, as a consumer, that there would be more choice. More competition. More tablets to get excited about.
People just want the iPad. Earlier this week I wrote an article about American businesses that’d been forking out for iPads for their employees without being entirely sure why they were doing so.
That, for me, sums up the deal with the iPad. It’s the name everyone knows and the tablet everyone wants, often without knowing why. There's no real competition, no need to shop around, no need to compare; it's the tablet.
And it’s not like its competitors are simply struggling in the face of Apple’s brand recognition. Even us ubernerds would struggle to point to another tablet and – hand on heart – say: “iPad beater”.
Actually, the Advent Vega probably deserves a mention at this point. Not that it’s particularly awesome (you’ll have to tweak the crap out of it, actually), but you can pick one up for less than £200 now. Sweet.
From the big names, I had high hopes for the HTC Flyer, but the Taiwanese can hardly hope to compete with the iPad when their 16GB unit costs the same as Apple’s 32GB.
I still like the look of the Toshiba Tablet. The official trailer has been kicking around since January, but it’ll be the “very end of summer” before it hits shelves. Bah.
All in all, not a great result for the first assault on the SS iPad. Step it up a notch, guys. We’re bored.