Microsoft and Google have spent a lot of time over the past month talking up their latest tablets. Both the Surface and the Nexus 7 are gorgeous pieces of hardware that look far superior to other Windows and Android tablets on the market. But what was most telling is that both tablet announcements effectively prove that Apple got it right with its closed ecosystem.
Apple has completely wrapped up the tablet market around the world, essentially creating the product category when it launched the first iPad just over two years ago. To date, nothing from any other manufacturer has come close to matching the iPad’s success.
But while many critics of Apple will lambast the Cupertino company’s closed ecosystem, it seems its competition is a lot less critical of the way Apple does things. Microsoft, in particular, seems to have embraced Apple’s attitude of marrying hardware to software, going against its traditional business methods to create the Surface tablet in-house.
Like it did with the Xbox, Microsoft has decided to create its own tablet hardware to get the most out of Windows 8, which is such a radical shift from previous versions of Windows that it is going to need some impressive hardware to help sell it to the masses. From the first impressions flooding the internet, it seems that things are looking more Xbox and less Zune for the Redmond company.
But while Microsoft are getting into the hardware business, Google has instead decided to do everything in its power to bend a traditional tablet manufacturer to its will by expanding its Nexus hardware platform to tablets. The 7-inch Nexus 7 is manufactured by ASUS, but designed to very specific Google instructions. ASUS boss Jonney Shih went so far as to admit that his engineers described the process as “torture”.
Given the lackluster take up of Android tablets over the past 18 months, Google must be hoping that having its hand in the hardware development is going to change its fortunes. Or at the very least, light a firecracker underneath its partners engineering teams to create a new breed of Android tablets that are actually worth owning.
But whether or not having Microsoft and Google dipping their metaphorical toes in the hardware pool is going to make a dent on iPad sales is yet to be seen. Microsoft still hasn’t announced pricing or availability for the Surface, and the Nexus 7 is going to be missing a range of features in Australia at launch.