The NYT has an interesting article up about the iPad — no, it is not about how great it is. The iPad may prove to be the catalyst for what was previously a struggling market… the tablet. The tablet PC never really excited consumers the way manufacturers had hoped. Flimsy hinges, sub-par software, and a lack of device sex appeal were largely to blame for the floundering sales figures. What will the new tablet look like? First, scratch the name. Tablets were so 2002; the new set of devices are called slates, or even *shudder* pads. They no longer have awkward hinges, they probably won’t have a physical keyboard, and they definitely won’t have a standard desktop operating system shoe-horned onto them. They will be, like it or not, more iPad-like. Sleeker, sexier, cheaper, and more well received than before.
Nokia, Microsoft, Google, and H.P. have all committed to making a slate-like device within the next year. While Microsoft and H.P. do have experience with the aforementioned tablet-type devices, Google is seemingly in the best position to benefit from companies pushing newer slate devices into the marketplace. The company’s Android OS can be easily scaled to a larger screen, there is already a thriving application ecosystem and content delivery method, and a loyal, sometimes rabid, fan base. H.P.’s slate offering due out next year, nicknamed “the half-pint,” will be running Google’s transformative mobile OS, while Microsoft and Nokia have not yet publicly announced what type of OS their slate devices will run — we think it is safe to assume that Microsoft may go with some version of Windows… just a hunch. There are even rumors that Google has plans to make its own slate hardware — it is unclear whether that is in-house of via a third-party, like the Nexus One. You can love or hate the iPad… either way, it could prove to be the spark for the increased production of more interesting electronic devices that blur the line between your laptop, your e-reader, and your mobile phone.