Since the original iPad came out, it has been able to lay claim to providing the best overall tablet experience. Clearly the iPad set the standards in overall usability and desirability.
The iPad was not the first tablet to market. The tablet computer idea has been lurking in the background for a number of years, but it just couldn’t take off because the technology and software usability just weren’t ready for primetime.
The iPad was a major step forward in both of these areas. The technology progressed to the point where a touchscreen was usable. The software was also much better than anything that had come before in a tablet format.
In the meantime, competitors have been playing catch-up. The competition is slowly progressing forward towards hardware parity with the iPad. Even so, the iPad has enjoyed the advantage of having the best software and the coolest apps from the coolest app developers, much more so than the Android competition.
Is the iPad still the best tablet? It used to be, but now the waters have been muddied, partly by the competition, and surprisingly, partly by Apple itself.
Competitors such as the Kindle HD and tablet offerings from Barnes & Noble, Samsung and Microsoft are coming on strong. Android apps are achieving real parity with iOS apps — quite a few of the Android apps are every bit as cool as the Apple versions. Android tablet competition should not be automatically ignored or dismissed by potential tablet buyers.
Apple has not only shot itself in the foot but shot off some of it’s toes with the roll-out of iOS 6. Acting out of sheer spite, Apple arbitrarily removed Google Maps and Google Street View. They also removed the built-in YouTube app. These actions severely diminished the overall functionality of existing and future iPads, giving tablet competitors such as the Amazon Kindle HD an opportunity to begin to grab market share from below.
If I were in the market for a new tablet today, I would be taking a very long and hard look at the new Amazon Kindle HD WiFi model that sells for $299. It seems to pack in the features I use the most from my iPad 2 into a very slick package that even includes stereo speakers with virtual surround sound integrated into a tablet.