Microsoft has finally released their own tablet, the Surface.
Google is expected to announce their own tablet very soon.
Apple, obviously, has already been dominating with the iPad.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS has been out for some time, though not very successful yet, and Google’s Android OS has been out much longer, and is very successful.
Android tablets have existed, but no Google branded tablet has yet existed.
|Is this the Google Tablet?|
Microsoft and Google have taken similar approaches to their mobile operating systems. They make the OS, and license it to hardware vendors. It’s the model that’s worked for Microsoft Windows for decades of PC domination.
Apple though, has taken a different approach. They make the hardware and the software, and that approach has led Apple to stratospheric heights of success.
Does the impending Google tablet and Microsoft Surface indicate that Google and Microsoft are going to take a stab at Apple-style control?
But will Google and Microsoft draw a line in the sand at some point? What if this expected new Google tablet runs some new kind of Android OS that Google will not license to other manufacturers?
It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s Surface tablets both run Windows 8, not the Windows Phone OS, though visually, they are all very similar because they are united by the Metro UI.
Apple’s iOS and OS X seem to be on a similar path of convergence.
But right now, Microsoft seems to be the only one that is blazing that trail in a crystal clear way. Apple is as well, though it’s more subtle.
Google’s offerings however are far more chaotic.
Not only is there Android, but there are Android “skins” that phone and manufacturers use to differentiate themselves from each other. Google also has their Chrome OS, which was originally designed for netbooks, but, as I fully expected when Chrome OS was first announced, it is now a desktop offering as well. I really have to wonder if Google is going to reign it in and start converging Android and Chrome OS into something that is more unifying.
But is mobile/desktop unification even the right path?
As it stands now, iOS wouldn’t be great for a desktop, and OS X wouldn’t be great for a tablet. But both are slowly merging user interface features.
Microsoft really is fully all-in with this philosophy.
While there will be different versions of Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8, all share the Metro UI. Xbox is in the Metro mix as well. Its makes sense.
Apple is probably going to arrive in the same place, once OS X 10.9 has come and gone.
Google seems far behind though. Chrome OS, Android, Android skins… it’s a mess.
Regardless, what will phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops look like in 5 years time? Are we going to see Google and Microsoft transform into Apple clones? Will Google and Microsoft be selling their own phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, all with a unified OS experience?
What does this mean for Dell, HP, Lenovo, HTC, Samsung, Nokia, and others? Will there be a top tier of computers and devices that are made by Microsoft, Google, and, Apple? And then a lower tier of devices made by everyone else, with Microsoft and Google operating systems licensed?
Do Google and Microsoft have the same special sauce, sense of simplicity, and discipline that Apple has?
Time will tell, but one thing is for certain.
Personal computing changed forever, by Apple, with the first iPhone. It could be decades before there is another paradigm-shift of that magnitude.