When Steve Jobs returned to Apple a few years ago, the company was heading for bankruptcy. Since then the iPhone series and the iPad have returned Apple to winning ways. Now Steve Jobs has been forced to take an indefinite leave of absence through illness. Will Apple survive?
A good illustration of just how tough it will be is in the tablet market. Apple under Steve Jobs created the tablet market. Before the iPad, tablets were a neglected, geeky, dead zone. The iPad has made it the fastest growing sector in the computing business. Now the completion is moving in with 80 new tablets announced at the recent CES. More will certainly follow in the coming months.
The most impressive of these new offerings is the Motorola Xoom. With Google’s new Android 3 operating system- as refined as Apple’s iOS- and a new chip from NVIDIA, it makes the iPad look puny.
In fact, anything the iPad can do, the Xoom can do twice as well. That chip from NVIDIA is twice as powerful as the iPad chip and packed with gaming potential as well as the power to display full HD video. It has a full GHZ of RAM making multitasking a cinch. There are front and rear facing cameras for video calls and taking HD video respectively. The iPad has no camera of any kind.
The real question though is: what will the iPad 2 have? If it cannot catch up, Apple could be on a slippery slope.
Here is a list of things the iPad 2 must have if it is to keep its place:
- A dual core 2 GHz processor
- Front and rear cameras
- Better RAM
- Better connectivity than the iPad- at least USB 2 and, even better, HDMI to match the Xoom.
Anything less than this will not do the job.
Of course, Apple have the advantage of being in the market early. Their App store outguns the Android Apps Store by 2 to 1. There is also a sizable industry of accessory makers for the iPad supplying sleeves, cases with keyboards, headphones and speakers. The Xoom accessory industry will be a way behind when it launches in March/April. But even as we speak Amazon are showing ads for new Xoom related products…
It is not just the tablet PC market where Apple is vulnerable to new Android 3, dual core NVIDIA chip powered competitors (there are several already announced). That new chip will power new smartphones too. Motorola believe their Atrix smartphone- also powered by the Tegra 2 NVIDIA chip- can replace laptops and even desktops with all that computing power. It will certainly put the iPhone under pressure and the new version will have to shape up to the new world or die.
If the future of computing is the mobile market- and all trends point that way- Apple will need to improve on every level in 2011 to keep its pre-eminent position. Google will not give up easily and its latest partners- Motorola and NVIDIA- are top class too.