Are iPad Killers Lurking?

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The pending release of Apple's iPad tablet is creating another Internet paroxysm of speculation, frenzied minutia, and recycled rumors. The latest of which is the rebirth of interest in the "Google Pad."

iPad Apps: A Sneak Peek

According to the blog at Dean Whitney Interactive, "Rumors are spreading about Google's plans to compete with the Apple iPad with their own tablet device."

But these rumors are at least two months old. Search for +"GooglePad" yields about 4,400 results on Google, while +"Google Pad" yields 261,000 hits. And they started when Google itself, on Feb. 2, posted concept illustration of what a possible touch tablet computer running Google's Chrome OS might look like. The illustrations and the original post are still online. And of course there's the Google Pad concept video.

Without citing or linking to any sources, the Dean Whitney blogpost says the new batch of rumors "confirms earlier reports that suggested the device would launch on or around April 5. The update also confirms that the phone will be sold directly by Google via the web" with T-Mobile as the carrier. That would be news, if anyone else was speculating or rumoring, let alone reporting, it.

Photograph: Marc Simon
On one of the other hands, TechCrunch's John Briggs doesn't expect a Google-branded product anytime soon. "Here's another ball out of left field: what if Google came out with a slate running their own official version of Chrome OS," he wrote earlier in March. "A GooglePad, then, would blow everyone's minds and essentially make this a two-horse race. It's a fascinating idea but I wouldn't expect Google to move on this for at least a year."

In May and June he expects a flock of "Chinese knock-offs" of the iPad, with Dell's Android-based Mini5 tablet and an unnamed HP product appearing later in the summer of this year.

It's not like there aren't any Google tablets or pads already announced, or even released. Engadget has a whole list of recently announced pad computers, all running the Google Android operating system, developed originally for smartphones (the iPad runs the iPhone software). There have been at least five since 10 March.

The most recent is Archos Home Tablet. Another is the WePad (underlining, apparently, the contrast with "iPad") from Germany's Neofonie, which touts an 11.6-inch display with 1366 x 768 pixels, compared with the iPad's 9.7-inch display with 1024 x 768 pixels.

The unreleased iPad is even being used to chart a new course for floundering Palm. PC World's Tony Bradley argues Palm should learn from Apple, take its innovative webOS software and load it into a new Palm tablet, almost inevitably to be called the Palm Pad. "Palm could abandon the smartphone market altogether, or use a successful tablet device to rebuild brand recognition and customer loyalty that might bolster the smartphone side of the business," Bradley writes.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.Twitter: Blog RSS feed.

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This story, "Are iPad Killers Lurking?" was originally published by Network World.

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At a Glance
  • Apple looks set to shake up casual computing with a tablet that offers clever design and ease of use. But that streamlined approach may also be the iPad's weakness.


    • Best-in-class touch interface
    • Large display shows pics and videos beautifully
    • All-day battery life


    • No way to manage files, no camera, no multitasking
    • Lack of Flash support cripples many Web sites
    • Poor scaling of iPhone apps
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