The iPad was not the first Tablet to hit the mass consumer market but it was certainly the product that made Tablets mainstream and has since dominated the market. In the first nine months on the market, Apple sold about 14.8 million units, generating around $9.5 billion in revenue and ABI research has reported that 4.2 of the 4.5 million tablets sold in Q3 of 2010 were iPads. And the market is only anticipated to expand even further. JP Morgan has project the tablet market to reach $35 billion in 2012. Though the iPad appears to have a solid grip on the tablet market currently, there could be some change on the horizon as we await the slew of Android tablets that will hit the market this year. As an app developer, are you prepared to create applications that will work on variety of devices across multiple carriers and operating systems with various screen sizes and resolutions?
Samsung currently has Android tablets in two different sizes 7- and 10-inches. Speculation is that Samsung will release an 8.9 inch tablet on March 22nd at CTIA. Between these three tablets, we know that there will be at least two different versions of Android for developers to grapple with, as the 7-inch Galaxy Tab current runs Android 2.2 (Froyo) and the 10-inch Galaxy Tab runs Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).
During Mobile World Congress HTC also announced its first tablet, the HTC Flyer, a 7-inch tablet running Android 2.2.
Motorola and LG have also stepped foot into the tablet arena with 10 inch tablets, both running Honeycomb. Motorola’s tablet, the Xoom, was released on February 24th making them the first to market with a tablet running Android 3.0. However, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha has hinted that their strategy included releasing a family of tablets, including a 7-inch model. There is no word as to what version of Android this device could run, but based on HTC’s to-be-released 7-inch tablet running Froyo and silence from Samsung on whether their 7-inch Galaxy Tab will receive a Honeycomb upgrade, it isn’t unreasonable to believe that Motorola’s tablet family may be fragmented in terms of the operating systems they will run.
In September of 2010, Research In Motion announced their entry into the tablet market, the BlackBerry Playbook. This 7-inch device will be running a brand new QNX based operating system, BlackBerry Tablet OS. Their equally as new WebWorks Toolkit allows developers to create applications that are compatible with BlackBerry Tablet OS and BlackBerry OS 6, the newest version of their phone OS. However, this fragmentation still poses a hurdle for developers who have previously created apps on the BlackBerry platform.
And if the current state of the tablet market didn’t have enough diversity, HP has doubled down on webOS, which they acquired when they purchased a struggling Palm in April 2010. They recently accounced a 9.7 inch tablet running webOS 3.0, an optimized version of the OS for tablet computers.
The problem with this is that most software developers still don’t have a scalable way to build applications across platforms and now across device families within each platform. With the release of iOS SDK 3.2 in March 2010 (Just before the release of the original iPad), Apple enabled developers to begin building “Universal Applications” that are optimized to run on all iOS devices. Google has released its version 3.0 “Honeycomb” SDK for tablets, which when integrated with an API called Fragments, allows applications to scale across a variety of screen sizes. However, this doesn’t help developers whose applications are targeted at user running earlier versions of Android. Applications developed on earlier Android platforms are forward compatible, but user experience tends to suffers when these applications are stretched to fit across 7, 9, and 10 inch screens of varying resolutions. What we’re then left with is a confusing field of hardware, software, programming environments and market share that developers must pick and choose from, and inevitably miss out on significant portions of. At ROAM, we want to simplify all of this for you and your clients by sorting through device complexity so you don’t have to. Developing on the ROAM platform will allow you to make sure your applications reach the widest breadth of devices and operating systems while dynamically adapting to the multiple form factors and displays that will flood the market before we know it. For more information on our tools for developers, please visit http://www.roamdata.com/developers