2010 in Tech: Tablet Wars

by Jordan Richardson on December 29, 2010

2010 may forever be remembered as the Year of the Tablet rather than the Year of the (Metal) Tiger.

Apple’s iPad obviously led the way, with the device receiving ample coverage. Marketed as a platform for visual and audio media, the iPad clocks in size-wise between smart phones and laptop computers. It caught on with the public almost instantly and Apple has sold millions of them.

The display is multi-touch and the programs must be approved by the Cupertino company, with the tablet running the same O/S as the Touch and the iPhone.

Media certainly took note of the iPad when worker suicides at Foxconn became too weird to ignore, kind of like Spider-Man on Broadway, but Apple managed to avoid any public relations disasters by keeping their feet on the ground. The company has pressed hard in promoting the tablet, but they were soon joined by other similar devices on the market and things got crowded in a hurry.

Of course, the other tablets – including the Samsung Galaxy Tab – didn’t make the splash that the iPad did. But with seemingly every manufacturer looking to throw their own tablet in the ring, 2011 could be a different story for Apple’s baby. RIM’s PlayBook is one potential challenger.

The PlayBook demonstrates just how competitive the tablet market is and how far things came in 2010. The device, which should be reaching consumers in early 2011, marks the first time Research In Motion has significantly altered their hardware line-up.

Other tablets also made appearances, including the Dell Streak (already in its “phase out” stage according to Matt Klassen’s assessment) and the Toshiba Libretto W100. Some have struggled to define the aforementioned devices as tablets, which may signify a new category emerging for description in 2011.

2010 marked the start of the tablet wars, that much is certain. Whatever direction the devices go from here remains to be seen, but rest assured we’re in the opening stages of this battle.

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