Android OS and tablets get another rival with HP TouchPad

by Kristen Nicole

Android’s facing some serious competition when it comes to the tablet market, and it’s still an area Android has yet to dominate. With the iPad still top dog, HP officially launches the TouchPad today, adding another device and operating system to the competitive tablet space. The TouchPad has garnered mixed reviews already, with a lack of apps as just one of several ticks for the “cons” column when compared to the iPad.

That means there’s still plenty of opportunity for Android to make gains in the tablet space, as the summer season heats up with releases and announcements for autumn launches. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was made available for pre-order this week, with 4G support amongst its biggest perks. Sony Ericsson, HTC, Acer and Sharp are all lined-up for tablet releases this year, with Acer in particular looking at the creation of a slide tablet. Android’s platform is also an attractive means of specialized tablet production beyond manufacturers, with both Amazon and Cisco looking to the Android OS for media and enterprise solutions.

The downsides of Android popularity

The expectation is that Android will eventually pick up steam in the tablet market, as it did with the smartphone sector. Google won over consumers with a range of devices that vary in price as well as carrier availability. But as Apple applies similar tactics to its iPhone lineup, Android sales may be plateauing. A recent Nielsen report indicates that Apple is gaining steam while Android sales begin to level-off, though Android remains the dominant OS. The report pushes the notion that Android’s smartphone shares have peaked, as another recent study from Needham analyst Charlie Wolf noted last week.

But worldwide popularity doesn’t come without its haters. Both Oracle and Microsoft are after Android revenue, going to court over patent infringement. Oracle’s high profile case has gained a great deal of attention these past few weeks, especially after Oracle claimed $2.6 billion for Google’s alleged infringement for Java use. Microsoft’s not going after Google directly, but picking-off Android manufacturers one-by-one. Seeking royalties for patents used in Android devices, Microsoft has inked deals with HTC, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo and Velocity Micro.