Everywhere you look you see tablets or tablet advertisements. Tablets are commonplace at work, school, on the bus, doctor offices, etc., and tablet makers are betting you’ll see more.
Microsoft officially jumped into the Tablet War on October 26th by releasing the brand new Surface at a retail cost starting at $499. Surface, which features the Windows 8 operating system, is marketted as a tablet with a “snap-in” keyboard. Microsoft announced that their preorders for Surface sold out in less than a week.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft isn’t the only company seeing green with the holiday season approaching.
According to component suppliers in Asia, Microsoft has placed orders to produce 3 million to 5 million of these tablets in the fourth quarter. That is similar to the orders that were placed for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets and Google’s Nexus 7 tablets, these suppliers say. Some component suppliers to Apple in Asia say they have received orders to make more than 10 million units of a smaller tablet for the Cupertino, Calif. company in the fourth quarter.
With millions of tablets being sold each month, what does this mean for programmers?
First, it’s important to note that there are several major operating systems with “app stores” - iOS, Android, and now Windows 8. Note that BlackBerry’s also are around, but it’s a rather limited market share.
With so many different IDE’s for developers to learn, it makes it much more difficult for small developers to be able to develop cross-platform (stable!) versions of an app and push their product. Additionally, the Kindle Fire and Nook have markets to develop for, too. Personally, I just don’t think that’s sustainable. However, if you’re a risk-taker, developing for the virgin Microsoft app store may pay off big dividends as Surface sales grow.
As far as market share, Apple has a huge advantage. It has already sold over 100 million iPads and was really the creator of the modern tablet industry. Google has made huge advances cutting into Apple’s market share with its Android OS. Then when Google released its Nexus tablet for $199, it entered the tablet hardware business with a low cost alternative.
The tablet industry is a fast changing arena with new players continuously entering. How will the industry look in 5 years? 10 years? Who knows. But if I had to guess, I don’t see the Android OS going away, nor iOS. But which will dominate? I’m thinking Android due to the developer-friendly environment.