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January 07, 2011

Microsoft announces.... nothing. Google follows suit.

Well, the much anticipated Las Vegas CES is shedding no light on how the industry will react to Apple's monster tablet home run. Yes, there were some tablets here and there, but really nothing that we didn't know already, and certainly nothing earth-shattering.

Microsoft, stunningly, showed nothing. Nada. No product, no strategy, no plan. The whole situation was remarkably similar to a time several years ago when erstwhile handheld champion Palm was in the ropes and Microsoft had an opening a mile wide to finally get some traction with Windows CE. What did they do then? Nothing. Well, they came out with Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC 2nd Edition. But even that was better than simply nothing at all. And back then there was nowhere near as much at stake.

If there is one single saving grace in this stunning inactivity, it's that Google, too, missed a giant opportunity to pull it all together and present to the world -- voila and ta-da -- the definite Android OS for tablets, the one that will do battle with Apple, the one that will make Microsoft irrelevant in tablets forever after. Didn't do it.

So those who stuck by Microsoft will now have tablets that really don't work very different from the old Tablet PCs. And those who meekly tried Android or something else missed a golden opportunity to put themselves on the map.

This is as close to forfeiting a game as it gets. By the time Microsoft may finally have something, Apple will have many tens of millions of iPads in the field. And after the virtual Android no-show at CES, the notion that Google seems unable to provide a cohesive tablet platform may get stronger.

So 2010 was the year of the tablet, for Apple, and 2011 will again be the year of the tablet, and no one's playing other than Apple. No one, I should say, of the big guys. There have been some nice new products. Motion Computing's new CL900 tablet is a thing of beauty and we really liked the little Samsung Galaxy Tab we had here for a few weeks.

But overall, Microsoft's apparent inability to figure out what to do in tablets and Google's ongoing spreading itself too thin is eerily reminiscent of CE devices from the likes of HP, Compaq, IBM, LG, NEC, Casio, Philips and others combined fail to gets as much as 25% handheld marketshare against the little Palms. Eventually, of course, Palm defeated itself, but that's not likely going to happen to Apple.

So the tablet crystal ball remains as milky as ever.

Posted by conradb212 at January 7, 2011 11:25 PM

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