Why Apple’s latest iPad moves cloud the tablet future of Windows 8

Why Apple’s latest iPad moves cloud the tablet future of Windows 8

Unless you’ve been dead for the day, you must know the news: not only is there a new, greatly improved iPad on the way, but the iPad 2, the iteration of the device that was current up to today, will continue to be sold by Apple at a reduced price point. You can now get into the iPad line for a mere $399, if you don’t mind being a generation behind.

And you likely won’t, as the iPad 2 is a fantastic device that, again until today, was the high watermark of tablet design.

So. Much. Tech.

Some of the biggest names in tech are coming to TNW Conference in Amsterdam this May.

Here’s a fact: Apple is the only company in the world that has produced an affordable tablet that is worth a damn. Sure, you can snag a cheap Android tablet, but the experience, both hardware and software, is painfully bad (they appear to have been designed by people who hate you). Microsoft is bowling for a late, great entry to the tablet market, but it has a weakness: the same OEMs that it is going to lean on to build Windows 8 tablets are the same OEMs that are shipping crap right now.

Who’s going to say that they are going to radically shape up by the time Windows 8 is ready for the market?

By lowering the price of the iPad 2 Apple turned the screw another round, as now Windows 8 tablets have to compete in a market that has a lowered price floor. Can they build anything other than a cheap plastic brick of bilge for $399? Early indications are not good. Take this, from a post on a pair of Windows 8 tablets that are marked for sale at $800 and $10o0 (I’m going to allow myself a lengthy self quote to save us all a moment of time):

Microsoft worked, I suspect quite arduously, to keep the minimum system requirements of Windows 8 low. Very low, in fact. So low, that hardware capable of running the operating system can be very cheap indeed. Instead, ViewSonic is looking to charge essentially $1000 for a tablet that contains a wireless chip.

Putting aside the fact that company thinks that it can charge $200 for 3G access alone, even the $800 model is far too expensive. I suspect that at anything over $600, a Windows 8 tablet will not be able to compete effectively with Apple’s iPad. Now, the obvious response to that is to point out that Windows 8 is a full operating system, and not a simple tablet OS. Well, sure, but people are not going to use a tablet as their main computer within the next half decade, so it’s a roughly moot point; people want a mobile device to complement their main computing environment. A Windows 8 tablet, for that purpose, must be price competitive with Apple’s devices.

The wild card here are ARM-based Windows 8 machines, which are far more like the iPad, as they are so limited from a ‘desktop app’ perspective that they are not a full Windows experience in the slightest. Perhaps those machines can dive below the $500 mark, at which Windows 8 tablets, I suspect, would sell fantastically.

Here’s the gist: $800 is too much for a companion tablet, and $1000 is a joke. Let’s hope that other OEMs are more on the ball.

$800 was a punchline before Apple decided to sell the formerly market leading tablet at half that cost. Now it’s even more humorous.

I have a real fear: that Windows 8 is going to shape up to be a great operating system that has absolutely no hardware to run on. Sure, there will be some high-end devices, but their price point will place them outside of the reach of normal consumers looking for a second screen. What company will be able to ship a Windows 8 tablet that can compete on price and quality with Apple’s offerings?

And I don’t think that we are going to be able to hack Windows 8 to run on our iPads, so that idea is out. I’m starting to fret, where the good Windows 8 tablets at?

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