Windows 8 Tablet Success: It’s the Ecosystem, Stupid!

Windows Logo

A lot of the details around Windows on ARM (WOA) architecture were revealed via a recent blog post by Steven Sinofsky, the President of Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft. Once WOA details were out, the discussion then turned to whether WOA tablets would truly compete with the iPad or not. Would the presence of the Desktop environment, albeit in a restricted fashion, make it clunky? Is it truly no-compromise, considering that today’s software will not work on those tablets? The arguments go on.

What should be recognized though, is that unlike Apple, Microsoft does not really build the WOA tablets, so it relies on its partners to build them. It can be debated whether Microsoft *should* build a tablet themselves or not, but it is clear that they alone do not control their destiny.

So, what will ultimately determine the success (or failure) of WOA tablets? The ecosystem, of course! Microsoft has done its part in building a touch-friendly OS, bringing a touch-first mentality to building apps, creating a development environment which will let apps work on “all Windows devices”, and built a marketplace which will help developers reap the benefits of being in front of hundreds of millions of customers all over the world.

I discuss three aspects of this ecosystem reliance which will determine how well WOA (and more generally, Windows) tablets do.

Windows 8 on Kal El tablet

OEM designs

The iPad has been a phenomenal success for a variety of reasons. One of them is the design and the build itself. When you pick up the iPad you can feel that a lot of thought was put into the shape and the dimensions of the tablet. Many Android tablets come off feeling cheap, but the iPad feels exactly the opposite.

What the Windows OEM partners will have to do is go beyond just the iPad. They will need to think hard about the design and come up with something that does not look like a cheap knock off of the iPad, and no, that does not mean just adding a microSD card reader and USB ports. Having those connectivity options is a nice advantage, but the tablet itself should feel good to look at and hold in the hands. These tablets will have to manage sturdiness and long battery life with lightness.

Finally, just because they can, OEMs should refrain from making tablets in all kinds of sizes (yes, I am looking at you, Samsung). There is an advantage in offering a choice of sizes, but there is also a practical limit to what should be done in reality. Don’t confuse the customers with too much choice!

Samsung May Launch a Galaxy Note 10.1 at MWC 2012

Samsung launched the Galaxy Note back in 2011, and while it may be a bit unwieldy due to its huge display, it is one of the best smartphones available today, in terms of specifications. Samsung has been marketing it differently from its smartphone and tablet offerings, hoping to find a sweet spot between the two.

Anyway, it seems that Samsung may also be working to launch the bigger version of the Galaxy Note – the Galaxy Note 10.1 – at MWC. While there has been no official announcement, an invitation by Samsung for a Developer Day at MWC lists the device alongside the Galaxy Note.

Samsung Developer Day

Samsung already has loads of tablets available for purchase, and it’s not clear what more the Galaxy Note 10.1 would offer over the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or its sucessor, except the S Pen stylus functionality.

It will likely have much better specifications than the Galaxy Note and a 10.1 inch display. Apparently, Samsung is also hiring student models for a commercial for the Galaxy Note 10.1, in which he will “record, take pictures, edit” and do some other stuff like that.

Could Samsung be targeting the education market with the Galaxy Note 10.1? It may pit the Galaxy Note 10.1 directly against the iPad 3, which will be unveiled in March.

Apple to Announce iPad 3 in First Week of March

It should come as no surprise, but it is that time of the year again. The time of the year where media goes all crazy over iPad 3 rumors and reports on every single one, but luckily there are still a few sane reports that come out. Just last week, a rumor regarding an iPad 3 event in February was debunked. Today, AllThingsD, which has an accurate history in revealing information regarding Apple’s new product media events, reports that Apple will hold an event to the launch the iPad 3 in the first week of March.  The report also suggests that the iPad 3 will be available for purchase within a week or so after the event. If we take a look back at history, this can very well be true:


Announced: Jan 27, 2010
Released: Mar 5, 2010

iPad 2:

Announced Mar 2, 2011
Released: Mar 11, 2011

In addition, the report also reemphasizes some of the rumors around the iPad 3, claiming that it will feature a much “faster chip”, improved graphics capabilities, and a much higher resolution display. This justifies what I predicted a month ago even more. You can read my thoughts here.

The Loop’s well-connected Jim Dalrymple also supports AllThingsD‘s claim with a “Yep.”

Rumor Regarding Apple Event in February Debunked

Yup, it is that time of the year again. The time of the year where media goes all crazy over iPad 3 rumors and reports on every single one, but luckily there are still a few sane reports that come out. A few hours ago, a Japanese blog Macotakara reported that Apple would be holding a “strange” type of event in early February for the iPad 3. The author was unable to provide further details on what exactly a strange event would entail.

When I first read this, it drove me nuts. “Strange” type of event? WTF was that even supposed to mean? I knew it was nonsense right off the bat, but luckily a more credible journalist thought the same way too. The Loop’s well-connected Jim Dalrymple reported a few hours after that Apple won’t be holding an event in February. Dalrymple has been reporting on Apple for over 20 years. Not only is he right, but if you take a look a back at history we can conclude that his sources are accurate:


Announced: Jan 27, 2010
Released: Mar 5, 2010

iPad 2:

Announced Mar 2, 2011
Released: Mar 11, 2011

So indeed, it does look like an iPad 3 event will be held in March with it also becoming available in March. My thoughts regarding what we can expect with the iPad 3 can be read here.

iPad Takes 96% of Tablets Activated in Enterprise, iPhone Takes 53%

Good, a company that provides secure mobility solutions, reports that according to new figures Apple’s iPad makes up 96% of the tablets activated at the 2,000 companies that use its services. They reported that of the top ten devices it saw activated in the last quarter, Apple’s five iOS models accounted for the top five slots.

Good graph

The phone that nobody wanted (iPhone 4S) took the lead, quickly jumped to 31% of all activations in the quarter. iPhone 4 was next, followed by iPad 2, the original iPad, and iPhone 3GS. Good also said that Android activations had initially gained some ground in October but “trailed off as activations of the iPhone 4S rapidly ramped up.” It seems to me that Android is “winning” in all areas indeed.

Good graph 2

The company also pointed out that businesses related to Life Sciences  “witnessed the highest rate of growth” and an increase in iPad deployments.” In addition, while Android fell back in the fourth quarter during the launch of the iPhone 4S. It seems to me that Android’s growth stalling due to the iPhone’s growth is becoming a trend now. Pretty amazing how only three iPhone models are beating Android in every area possible.

Android Grabs 10% Tablet Market Share from Apple in Q4 2011

Apple may have had a record quarter and marginally beaten Android in terms of Q4 2011 smartphone sales, but Android is slowly gaining market share in the tablet space, chipping away at Apple’s dominant position.

According to a report by Strategy Analytics, global tablet shipments were at an all time high of around 27 million units in Q4 2011, growing 150% year-over-year. Apple was still the leader in Q4 tablet shipments, but its market share dropped from 68% to less than 58%, while Android gained more than 10%, accounting for more than 39% of all tablet shipments.

The largest contributors to Android’s tablet market share have been Amazon, Samsung and Asus. Most of Android’s gains can be attributed to the popularity of the Amazon Kindle Fire. While the iPad continues to dominate the high-end tablet segment, Android tablets are more popular in the budget segment. No points for guessing who is capturing a majority of the profit in tablets (Hint: It rhymes with Bapple).

Surprisingly, even Microsoft shipped 1.5% of all tablets in Q4 2011, despite the fact that Windows 8 is at least 6 months away from launch. I expect it to gain a significant portion of the market, once Windows 8 is launched.

Check out some of these statistics about the tablet market in Q4 2011:

Tablet Market Q4 2011

Apple Announces iBooks Author

Apple sure has made a lot of education-related announcements today. In addition to releasing a revamped version of iBooks, announcing digital interactive textbooks, and an app for iTunes U, the company has also unveiled a brand new Max OS X application called “iBooks Author”. According to the company, this will simplify the process of creating and selling digital textbooks through its iBook store. More importantly, it should be noted that Apple has essentially converted iBooks from an app to a platform.

iBooks Author

Apple’s Roger Rosner, demonstrated the new software to the press during the event. He showed how the tool can easily turn a document like a Microsoft Word file into something formatted for the iBooks 2 app. In addition, users can also place images in their book, and text will flow around the pictures. Movies can also be added to an iBook too by simply dragging and dropping. He also showed how simple it is to add a Keynote file to an iBook. In his demo, Rosner showed how adding a Keynote file would add the presentation to a book as an interactive widget.

Now anyone can create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, and more for iPad. All you need is an idea and a Mac. Start with one of the Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. Add your own text and images with drag-and-drop ease. Use Multi-Touch widgets to include interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3D objects, and more. Preview your book on your iPad at any time. Then submit your finished work to the iBookstore with a few simple steps. And before you know it, you’re a published author.

iBooks Author is available for free in the Mac App Store.


Apple Introduces New iTunes U app for iPad

iTunes U app

Not only did Apple introduce a brand new iBooks app and digital interactive textbooks during today’s event, Apple also introduced an iTunes U application for iPad. The company turned its free educational podcast section in the iTunes store into an app. iTunes U allows college students to view course materials, receive updates from their teachers, and even sign up for classes. Also, anyone can view the iTunes U content.

The all-new iTunes U app lets teachers create and manage courses including essential components such as lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and syllabuses and offer them to millions of iOS users around the world.

The new iTunes U app is a huge leap from audio and video lectures to a full-fleged learning app. Which also allows non-traditional students to access huge amounts of free content. Courses are created via the iTunes U course Manager, a web-based tool that allows teachers to build a course that includes a syllabus, handouts, quizzes, and much more.

iTunes U lets you take a complete course on your iPad. View the course overview, instructor biography, and course outline. Read posts and keep track of your completed assignments. Watch videos directly within the app, read books, and view all your course notes in one place. Receive push notifications alerting you to new posts from the instructor. And iCloud keeps your notes, highlights, and bookmarks up to date on all your devices.

iTunes U for iOS has more than 100 courses already optimized for iOS, with more along the way. The app is a free download for iPad and iPhone on the App Store.


Apple Releases iBooks 2 for iPad

Today, Apple had its education-focused media event. During the event, the company made a series of announcements. Right off the bat, Apple started off the keynote by introducing iBooks 2, an updated version of the company’s e-book software for iOS devices. The update comes as a part of a dive into the interactive digital textbooks in partnership with a number of major publishers.

iBooks textbook

Apple has partnered with McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the textbooks. These three publishers are currently responsible for 90% of textbook sales in the United States. In addition, McGraw-Hill and Pearson are rolling out a handful of introductory titles today, with more coming soon. Apple’s initial focus for its textbooks is on high school textbooks. The books are priced at $14.99 or less, which is amazing because usually a textbook of this kind would cost $50+. From the iBooks 2 description:

Introducing iBooks 2 — now with iBooks textbooks.

– Experience gorgeous Multi-Touch textbooks designed for iPad
– iBooks textbooks are filled with interactive features, diagrams, photos, and videos
– Tap to dive into images with interactive captions, rotate 3D objects, swipe through image galleries, watch videos in full screen, and more
– Use a finger as a highlighter when swiping over text in a textbook
– Take advantage of Study Cards to help you memorize important highlights, notes, and glossary terms
– Tap glossary terms to see definitions of key topics and concepts without leaving the page

iBooks 2 is available for free from the App Store, available as an update to the existing iBooks app.

Apple Attempts to Reinvent Textbooks with iBooks 2 and iBooks Author

After disrupting the entertainment industry, Apple has now set its sights on the education sector. In an event held at the Guggenheim museum in New York City, Apple announced its plans to reinvent the textbook industry.

At the heart of Apple’s textbook strategy is the iPad. The iPad’s potential as an educational device was apparent from the very beginning. More than 1.5 million iPads are currently being used in educational programs. However, the lack of structured content has prevented students and teachers around the globe from realizing its full potential. All this is set to change with today’s announcement of iBooks 2.

Textbooks are informative and comprehensive. Unfortunately, they are also dull and boring. “There is no reason to assume today that kids need to use the same tools they used in 1950”, explained Apple. iBooks are essentially full-fledged iPad applications that are designed to make learning fun by tapping the intuitiveness of learning on a multimedia capable touchscreen tablet.

iBooks will feature interactive graphics, 3 dimensional models, videos, search, interactive quiz, glossary, and more. Apple’s iBooks makes highlighting content, taking notes, and creating study cards as simple as a few taps and swipes on the screen. Additionally, books purchased will be perpetually available in the library, and will continue to be updated as the publisher releases new editions.



The advantages of Apple’s new digital textbook platform are several. However, none of that would have mattered if they were not priced right. Thankfully, Apple is again adopting its already proven model of undercutting the established distribution model with smart pricing. All textbooks will be available for $14.99 or less, which is an astronomical price reduction when compared to their dead tree counterparts. Currently, college students often end up spending upwards of thousand bucks on textbooks alone.


Apple is not only making it easier to consume information, but also to create information. It is releasing a new application for Mac called the iBooks Creator. As the name suggests, the iBooks Creator is aimed at publishers looking to create iBooks (which may or may not be textbooks). It is a WYSIWYG editor that makes creating gorgeous and interactive textbooks drop dead simple. Most of the stuff can be accomplished by simple drag and drop, and more advanced features can be added through HTML and JavaScript widgets. The iBook Author is available as a free download.


Apple is launching its new initiative with all the big guns on-board. Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which account for 90 percent of textbooks sold in the US, are among its launch partners.

[images via Engadget]