It was an eventful weekend. Wild rumours ran amuck that the social networking site Facebook would close down from March 15. Phrases such as ‘Facebook shutting down’ were among the most searched ones on Saturday and Sunday, and even topped the Alexa Hot Topics list for some time. Only Facebook’s denial posted on its official Wall, which rubbished the rumour, could finally bring the frenzy down.
On another front, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas came to a draw. Reports on CES seem to point out at least one thing quite clearly—that ‘tablet’ is going to be the chorus of 2011.
So which are the voices that are sharp enough to be distinguishable? Well, Apple’s iPad is certainly the leading one at the moment but some other crisp tones are emerging as well.
Notion Ink’s Adam shows the potential of being the strongest contender, seemingly living up to the sobriquet of ‘iPad challenger,’ though not before it had teased the patience of tech bloggers and reviewers to a hilt. As blogging site Ubergizmo wrote, “Just when you thought that the Notion Ink Adam tablet might end up as vapourware, what with delayed release dates and all, we were pleasantly surprised to know that it has been priced already…”
The other upcoming tablets that are being seen as substantial contenders include the Motorola XOOM, the BlackBerry PlayBook and the Dell Streak.
Notably, three out of these four tablets–excepting PlayBook–are to be based on one or the other version of Android; XOOM would be the first one to use Honeycomb–Android 3.0, which is being readied specifically for tablets. Notion Ink, instead of waiting for Honeycomb to be out, has supposedly tweaked a pre-Honeycomb Android to achieve similar results, perhaps even better, with its Eden UI.
Yes, post the CES it looks safe to say that Android would be a preferred tablet OS for a majority of vendors and that it would only be a matter of time that Android repeated its smart-phone success in the tablet market segment too.
Indeed, the iPad’s rapid success has turned the tablet into a bandwagon that everybody wants to ride onto. This is making the market quite crowded and segmented, something that is naturally good for consumers. Gurgaon-based Olive Telecom, which had earlier launched OlivePad, has a sold-out sign on its Website and is now taking pre-orders for the next lot of delivery, scheduled for January 14. The product is priced at Rs 23,990 and comes bundled with a host of accessories… and indications are that Adam’s pricing in India is likely to be no less competitive.
Moreover, Adam’s strong international branding can force other players to offer competitive pricing for their devices, or else, compel them to be one up in terms of features and user experience. On that count, Apple could be the only player having a fair amount of readiness, with the ‘iPad 2’ rumoured to be launched this February.
And what is going to be the No. 1 Web application (non-voice) on the tablets? Could it be Facebook? Yes, if the frenzy generated by rumours of the social networking site’s closure is to be taken as any indicator. Also, in the year just gone by, Facebook finally beat search engine Google as the most visited Web site in the US, accounting for 8.93 percent of all visits between January and November 2010. Google.com ranked second with 7.19 percent of visits, followed by Yahoo! Mail at 3.52 percent, Yahoo! at 3.30 percent and YouTube at 2.65 percent, according to Internet data research firm Experian Hitwise.
The tablets will make social networking a more seamless activity–and Facebook healthier, making its shutdown a near impossibility for the foreseeable future.
( As published in Deccan Chronicle, January 13, 2011. )
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