Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled his company’s latest invention on Wednesday, the iPad 2.
With the unveiling of Apple’s latest iPad came a brief remark from Jobs on Microsoft’s Windows Tablet PCs. Jobs said that Apple had sold 15 million iPad devices in nine months, ”more than every tablet PC ever sold,” he boasted. “The Tablet PC did not invent the modern Tablet PC, it crashed and burned.” Microsoft wasn’t the only company on the receiving ends of Jobs’ jabs however. The Apple chief also displayed a slide of Google’s Honeycomb operating system, claiming that the OS only has 100 applications available. Jobs didn’t stop there though, he also displayed the following slide:
Jobs also explained that he doesn’t believe the iPad is the next PC market:
“Our competitors are looking at this like it’s the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive. The hardware and software need to intertwine more than they do on a PC. We think we’re on the right path with this.”
Microsoft famously introduced its Tablet PC edition of Windows in 2001. The company produced a hardware specification for its OEM partners that would see hundreds of pen-enabled personal computers on the market. Microsoft originally licensed a separate copy of Windows, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, before integrating the technology into future Windows versions. Despite Microsoft’s head start, Tablet PCs have not sold in large quantities. The software giant has been criticized for its slow response to Apple’s iPad device, introduced in April, 2010. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, previously said Windows 7 based Slates would be available “as soon as they’re ready” when questioned earlier in 2010. Microsoft’s hardware partners introduced a range of new form factors at CES, a mix between traditional Slates and laptops.
Apple’s latest iPad 2 features a dual-core CPU, 9x faster graphics and is slimmer and lighter than the previous generation. The company has also included front and rear cameras for use with FaceTime. Microsoft’s hardware partners have a lot of catching up to do if they want to position a product that can rival the iPad 2. Samsung unveiled its Sliding PC 7 series Windows 7 Slate hybrid at CES earlier this year. The device features Intel’s 1.66GHz Z670 Oak Trail processor, 10.1″ touchscreen, 32GB SSD and 2GB of RAM. The tablet ways just 2.1 pounds and will retail in March for $699. The iPad currently retails at $499 and sold three million units in its first 80 days of release. The iPad is currently selling approximately 4.5 million units per quarter, Bernstein Research estimates.
Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates, said earlier last year that the company has a lot of different tablet projects it is pursuing. Microsoft canceled their internal Courier project shortly after the release of the iPad. The project was an innovative new tablet concept that had promised to combine a dual screen book design with finger and stylus input. The leaked promotional materials demonstrated various concepts that would have brought an unparalleled productivity tool to the market. Most media outlets and analysts felt the move to cancel the device was a mistake.
Dell also unveiled a hybrid “touch and type” Windows 7 Slate device in late November. The device currently retails at at $549 in U.S. stores. Microsoft rarely acknowledges the iPad or its sales influence. Windows general product manager Gavriella Schuster previously admitted that netbooks running Windows are “definitely getting cannibalised” by the iPad.
Apple’s iPad 2 announcement will only heap further pressure on Microsoft to respond. Rumors suggest that Microsoft may introduce Windows 8 ARM based tablets ahead of a full desktop release. Microsoft’s competitive tablet strategy is believed to be further along than expected. Dell’s recently leaked Tablet Roadmap revealed that the OEM has marked Q1 2012 as its date for a Windows 8 based slate. WinRumors understands that Microsoft has been working on an ARM based version of Windows for nearly a year and that it is laboring hard to bring this to the market as soon as possible. Microsoft has previously promised a “major revamp” of Windows for slate applications, that will come in the next version, Windows 8.
Microsoft is still refusing to talk Windows 8 based Slates however. Microsoft CFO Peter Klein declined to talk Windows 8 or the future of the company’s Slate strategy at a Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Wednesday. Klein said the company will share more information on “the next generation of Windows” when it is ready to do so. Microsoft’s refusal to detail a firm iPad competitor could damage its mindshare long term. Microsoft may be preparing to demonstrate its Windows 8 Tablet UI as early as June, according to reports on Monday. If the company is serious about the expanding Tablet market then June would be a perfect time to show what it has planned.