With the explosion of new products that continue to flow from companies around the world, it is a fantastic time to be involved in the technology industry. To illustrate, let’s begin with Apple, which began this latest race for the consumer dollar with the release of its latest iteration of the extremely popular iPad. Then, just a few months later, Microsoft, a company noted for being a leader in technology, announced its first ever computer hardware venture with the introduction of the Surface tablet computer. This introduction was quickly followed by Google which, along with Asus, took center stage when unveiling the Nexus 7 tablet computer.

However, despite the hopes of the above industry leaders, the merry-go-round hasn’t stopped just yet. Rumors are flying around the Internet that Amazon is about to introduce a new Kindle Fire model at the end of July. The Fire 2 (not the official name) is expected to be available sometime in late 2012 or early 2013 and is rumored to be comparable to the Nexus 7. At the same time, those in the know are suggesting that Amazon may also introduce a 10″ tablet. However, the rumor that I personally like best is the one that Apple could be introducing a 7″ mini-iPad to compete against other products in the marketplace. This, however, is an unsubstantiated rumor that I find hard to swallow since Apple’s iPad doesn’t need to be tinkered with. In other words, why flirt with anything else?

Before Tablet Computers, Our Choices Were Simple

In the days of yore, buying a computer was a fairly simple process. Your purchase was determined by whether you wished to own a PC or an Apple product. Once you had made this decision, the rest was fairly simple and boiled down to price. However, even this was somewhat within your control since the cost of these computers was normally based on the type of hardware the computers came with. That simply meant that if you wanted the fastest CPU, the most memory, the largest hard drive, or a bigger screen, you paid more. If purchasing a PC, this left only one question for the potential buyer to answer: “How much money do you want to spend?” However, if they wanted to buy an Apple product, the question became: “How much money do you have in the bank?” (Hee, hee! I am just teasing you Apple fanboys.)

It is No Longer Just Hardware and Software That You Are Buying

Today, there are some who will argue that the hardware of one tablet is superior to another brand or type of tablet and, for the most part, their point of view is valid. For example, the Nexus 7, from Google and Asus, is an exemplary model in proving this point since its hardware capabilities are superior to those found in the current Amazon Kindle Fire or the Barnes & Noble Nook. However, these improvements are the result of one company attempting to outdo another to increase the desirability of its product. This means that each company’s goal is not so much about improving the product, but rather about increasing the salability of the product to the masses.

Part of the strategy being used by the tablet makers as well as by smartphone companies is the introduction of an entire platform of services. These companies market to different demographics so they focus their efforts on producing products and applications geared to that group (most of which are not interchangeable with other devices). Since the major players in the tablet market — including Apple, Google, and Amazon — offer cloud-based services for music and applications, they are content to sell you services that work with your device.

To maintain their growing coffers, these service providers, for a fee, provide access to the movies, music, television shows, games, and books that their customers sign up for. In some cases, access to these applications can be tethered to work on any device supported by the service provider. The unfortunate thing is that those individuals whose array of devices consist exclusively of Apple products quickly learn that Apple and its iOS software (along with purchases from the iTunes store) will not function on a Kindle Fire, Nook, or Nexus 7.

However, Amazon and Google are more open in their sharing of applications. This is especially true of Amazon when it comes to accessing the books you buy. I have purchased books from Amazon and have shared them between my PC, my wife’s Apple iPad, and my Kindle Fire. Basically, this means that, as consumers, we need to not only make a decision about the hardware and software to buy, but also about the content provider we choose.

Decisions, Decisions, and More Decisions

One such decision occurred to me a few weeks ago when I was considering rooting my Amazon Kindle Fire and installing a variety of Ice Cream Sandwich. For me, that meant that, once I accomplished this update, I would lose access to my Amazon Prime video and book lending libraries.

If you aren’t a Prime subscriber, however, you may find Apple, Google, or Barnes & Noble have more to offer in regards to your specific needs. Other decisions for you to consider are what hardware and operating system you wish to work with. However, once these decisions are out of the way, don’t forget that the platform you use is also an important factor in making any decision.

If you find yourself unsure of how to proceed regarding any hardware or software component, the Internet is an excellent resource. Here you will find in-depth articles that compare the differences between hardware features, the pros and cons of the different operating systems, as well as an array of consumer comments on the different platforms that are currently available.

In our home, we use three different platforms since no one single platform fits our needs. It is nice for us, however, that we are able to share our Kindle books on all of our devices, including my laptop PC.

Should You Wait or Buy Now?

That depends on what you are looking to buy.

  • Kindle Fire is a definite wait.
  • Apple iPad 2 is a definite buy and I would recommend that you hurry since Apple may stop selling the iPad 2 at any time. $399 is a great price.
  • Nexus 7 is a definite buy if you are looking for a 7″ tablet.
  • Nook may not be getting an upgrade anytime soon. It is your decision whether to buy now or wait.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source: DigiTimes

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by ki4zkp