I was pretty excited about the announcements before and during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. Android was the star of the show, with many many manufacturers showing off hardware that uses the operating system. Forefront in the hype was the tablet-specific iteration, called Honeycomb that will be available on many of the new tablets, a couple that are creating buzz are:
LG Optimus Pad (formerly called G-Slate):
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (10-inch version of the existing Tab)
These tablets will be available for consumer and enterprise use later in 2011, however, more imminent is the Motorola Xoom, which will be the first tablet running Honeycomb available.
It looks fantastic, and represents a viable alternative to the iPad for both detailing duties and for use in a hospital environment. In fact Android, being an “open” platform, means that you don’t have someone like Apple meddling in the types of app that can be produced for the tablet, making it simpler to manage, produce and approve specific apps for specific tasks. In addition, pharma companies and hospitals can have control over how the user interface looks and feels.
The problem with the Xoom is twofold: No Flash integration at launch. Admittedly, this is a minor problem, as Flash is promised for a few months’ time. However, the major problem is the cost of the thing. Even assuming the retail price of $799 can be beaten by bulk purchase, this still leaves the Xoom on a par with its (currently) only rival in the 10-inch category, the iPad – a very well known and trusted device, and I expect that, given the choice based on cost, 90% would go for the iPad.
It also gets worse, rumour has it that iPad 2 announcement will be days away (March 2 anyone?), and if the iPad 2 is launched soon, you can bet that the price of new original iPads will drop significantly, as we saw with the iPhone 3Gs when the iPhone 4 was launched. This leaves Motorola in the position of having an untested device, with a completely new and unfamiliar operating system at a higher price than the iPad. Which will be a problem.
Aside from this, Pharma companies and institutions looking to leverage tablet devices should maybe think about waiting for the choice of devices, as I thought you would also like to see what else is out there too in terms of tablets:
HTC Flyer – a 7-inch tablet that controversially uses a smartphone version of Android and has a stylus
RIM PlayBook (BlackBerry) that runs on a new operating system and is intended to link up with the BlackBerry
HP TouchPad – uses WebOS, developed by Palm (remember them!)