Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is It Still the Year of iPad 2...Or Android?!?

Over a year ago in a previous Blog post I wrote about the onslaught of Android driven devices that would be invading the marketplace throughout the coming year. But back then I didn't fully comprehend just how pervasive this dynamic interface would become and that so many hardware companies would commit to using Google's O/S instead of something proprietary or even Windows based to run their tablet and smartphone creations.

This past March many of us watched Steve Jobs as he declared 2011 the year of iPad 2. And though this magical tablet certainly remains the one to beat, the giants of tech like Samsung, Dell, Motorola, Acer, Sharp, and Asus released competing tablets, all powered by Android, in the hopes of giving Apple a run for their money. Plus there's been a slew of near identical devices from lesser-knowns such as Viewsonic, Archos, Coby, and eLocity, each licensing Google's platform with similar aspirations of success. Just take a look at this long, long list featuring reviews and announcements of various Android gadgets out now or still in production. It's pretty overwhelming and continues to grow week after week.

So when Sony, no stranger to innovation and one of the first to enter the eReader market in 2006, announced they'll be launching two tablets using Android 3.0 this fall, it only reinforced suspicions that most companies believe Google's technology provides them the best, if not only, chance to go head to head with Apple. And from the look of this promotional video, both devices have been designed to appear and function like no others currently available, incorporating access to Playstation games, music services, and Sony's eBookstore.

RIM, on the other hand, decided to go the proprietary route with the Blackberry Playbook, however from several accounts the path they're traveling on seems to be leading down a road of disappointment and a possible dead end if much needed improvements aren't made...and soon! Could Android save the Playbook from possible extinction?

Of course, there's the Android based Nook Color from Barnes & Noble, an impressive and popular 7" eReader that's better than ever thanks to a recent software upgrade. So why then is B&N planning to release a new reading device on May 24th, just a month after these improvements were made? Who knows, but I hope it means they've got something big up their sleeves like a new Nook with a Pearl e-Ink touchscreen, similar to Sony's terrific, but neglected Touch Edition eReader.

Regardless, hands down the million dollar question everyone's asking is whether or not Amazon will be next to join the Android army with a color Kindle or simply choose to improve their bestselling eReader with a Pearl e-Ink touchscreen of their own. Since reading in direct sunlight continues to be a strong selling point in contrast to tablets with glass screens, I believe some type of black & white Kindle is here to stay, even if a "tablet-ish" device is imminent. But the latest round of speculation is more than just fun to ponder. This time it actually seems logical. Especially when one considers how Amazon's digital offerings have dramatically increased over the last few months.

Not convinced? Well, here's an article that predicts an "entire family" of Android devices will soon be graced with the Amazon logo and deliver a seamless buying experience making the retailer a true media alternative to Apple's iTunes.

One thing's for certain: If things continue as they are, Android powered tablets and smartphones may eventually surpass Apple's dominance as the preferred platform for all our entertainment needs leading to what might just become the technology showdown of the century!

So I ask you...will 2011 be the year of iPad 2 or will it be Android's to claim?

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