Android And Win8 Only Real iPad Challenge Says Dell

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CEO Michael Dell names two platforms as only options to the iPad tablet, calling remaining OSs “other noise”

Speaking to analysts and journalists in a conference call to announce the company’s second-quarter financials, Dell’s CEO Michael Dell said the Android platform will benefit from Google’s $12.5 billion bid for Motorola Mobility.

Responding to an analyst’s question about the deal, Dell said Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 and Google’s Android OS will emerge as the only real alternatives to Apple’s dominant iPad in the tablet market.

Just Two Viable iPad Alternatives

Dell has opted for the Android OS in its line of Streak tablets but recently withdrew its five-inch model from sale.

“We’re still quite interested in Android,” Dell (pictured) said. “I’ll also tell you that our early work on Windows 8 on the tablet side looks to be pretty encouraging. So we think it’s shaping up to be a competitive environment. I don’t think beyond those two… there are viable alternatives that make sense. So there’s a lot of other noise out there in the market that I don’t think will amount to much of anything.”

Dell did not name names, but that “other noise” most likely means Hewlett-Packard’s doomed webOS-based TouchPad offerings and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion’s QNX-based PlayBook tablets, both of which are suffering from sluggish sales.

Systems makers are trying to gain a foothold in a tablet space dominated by Apple and its iPad. And the numbers show why: market research firm Gartner is predicting that tablet sales will jump from about 70 million this year to 294 million by 2015. However, right now, outside of Apple’s iPad, no other tablet is catching fire. Just weeks after launching its webOS-based TouchPad, HP cut the price by $100 – and then announced it was dropping the whole webOS project.

Many of the other tablets released in recent months to challenge the iPad are seeing a so-so response from buyers. Still, Android-based tablets may now make up as much as 20 percent of the overall market, according to ABI Research.

“Many vendors have introduced media tablets, but none are separating themselves from the pack to pose a serious threat to Apple,” ABI Research Mobile Devices Group Director Jeff Orr wrote in an August 11 statement. “In fact, most have introduced products at prices higher than similarly configured iPads.”

Windows 8 On The Horizon

The company discontinued its original five-inch Streak, which seemed to suffer from an identity crisis, with many asking whether it was a large smartphone or a small tablet, but Dell is still putting its energies behind its seven-inch version, which is more in line with Apple’s iPad concept.

However, Dell is expected to roll out tablets based on Microsoft’s yet-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system sometime in 2012. When they would launch is up in the air, given that it is unknown exactly when Microsoft will release Windows 8.

The Motorola deal would not only boost Android in the tablet world, Dell said, but it also will give Google much-needed patent protection as it tries to fight off legal challenges from such rivals as Apple, Oracle and Microsoft. Motorola reportedly would come with as many as 17,000 patents.

“Certainly patents play a big role here, and having Android with a stronger ability to exhaust patent claims against it probably sets up an interesting competitive dynamic,” he said.

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