Microsoft's announcement of its upcoming Surface tablet computer has heated up the market considerably. The delay from the time of introduction to the first product shipment has helped potential competitors to analyze the market and respond with new products of their own. Sales of the new tablets such as the Acer Iconia Tab W500, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Motorola XOOM, have barely dented the sales of Apple's benchmark iPad line.
Rumors online indicate that Amazon will shortly introduce a new lineup of Kindle tablets and there are many other potential products from a variety of sources that are just now gaining traction, such as Google's Nexus 7. Apple is not sleeping and with the yet unannounced iPad-mini device just around the corner, there may be a whole new round of products. One thing is certain, Microsoft's delayed entry into the field with its own Windows 8 operating system, may be too little too late. No matter what happens with Microsoft, Apple is expected to maintain over 60% of the market.
Here in the U.S. we usually have a very myopic view of markets, thinking that what sells well here is all that matters. But the really big markets are in China and Southeast Asia, and most of the current products are gaining ground by making sales in those venues. Apple has just begun iPad sales in China and the boost from those markets could be decisive in which products live or die. If you watch the global perspective, you will see that what sells here has little impact on those huge markets where some of the most popular models have not even been sold in the U.S. See the Calcutta Telegraph.
Here's what I think. Tablet computers, like the Apple iPad fill a definite niche for a lot of people. My wife is a good example. She has now gotten to the point of carrying her iPad with her almost everywhere she goes. She does not have a direct Internet connection, but sees that available WiFi fills almost all her needs. I am still dependent on my iPhone and only switch to an iPad occasionally when my eyes refuse to focus on the smaller print. My daughter took a trip to a National Park recently and commented on how many people were taking pictures using their iPads and other tablet computers. If I were making inexpensive cameras, I would be worried about the future.
For genealogists with a need for portability and programs, both Android and Apple tablets are extremely useful. I am not convinced that they work for extensive data entry, but that may change as keyboard evolve and become more practical. I do not think I will ever learn how to type on the virtual keyboad on the iPad, but I understand that many young people now prefer it.
Speaking of cameras, the high end cameras are also rapidly evolving. Nikon has thrown down the gauntlet with its introduction of a 36+ Megapixel sensor and it is likely that Canon and other manufacturers will follow suit.
The only constant is change itself.