Since it was first released to ravenous buyers in 2010, the iPad has reigned atop and dominated the tablet market, with competing tech firms trying and (mostly) failing to edge their ways in. The HP Touchpad, the Dell Streak, the 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook: All have been swept into the dustbin of tablet history, swatted away by the iPad's continued control of the market.
So: If you're not making the relatively successful Kindle Fire or the Nexus 7, what's your next move in your war on Apple? Well, a steady stream of leaks over the past few days have provided peeks into what Apple adversaries Samsung, Sony, Hewlett-Packard and Research In Motion might have planned to take down the iPad in the near future.
Below, grab a glimpse at some (purported) future tablets from those companies: We've got a bigger BlackBerry PlayBook, HP's eye-catching follow-up to the not-so-successful Touchpad, and a Samsung tablet with a Retina display (Alert Apple's lawyers!). That, and a BlackBerry PlayBook that may finally -- after over a year of promises -- come with 4G LTE connectivity (uh, maybe).
In 2012, many iPad challengers will rise; several iPad challengers will fall. Gird yourself, iPad; here are your newest enemies:
The not-waving-but-drowning Research In Motion outed a 7-inch PlayBook in mid-2011, but the little tablet failed to make much of an impression. Could bigger prove better? Our friends at Engadget found a set of photos on the Vietnamese Tinhte message board that purport to show a 10-inch BlackBerry PlayBook model. No word on when it would be released, but you can flip through several more photos of this bigger PlayBook (PlayTome?) right here.
HP's first attempt at an iPad killer went poorly. You may remembe incredible demand for the Touchpad, but only after it was discontinued and heavily discounted all the way down to $99. That fiasco didn't faze HP: Hewlett-Packard reps promised they'd be back again with another tablet running the upcoming Windows 8 later in 2012. Could this be the comely backside of that Windows 8 slate? It's simply a screenshot from a recent HP commercial (spotted first, again, by Engadget), and it sure as heck looks like this fair-haired, gently-bearded gentleman is using an HP tablet that is not a touchpad. Is it the Slate 8? The real deal should be unveiled later this year, soon after the October launch of Windows 8, so it won't be long until we know for sure. You can watch the entire ad here; the slate pops up around the :55 mark.
Up to now, if you wanted to buy a BlackBerry PlayBook, you had to settle for a Wi-Fi-only model: Even though the PlayBook is pitched toward business types, Research In Motion did not offer cellular connectivity for its enterprise tablet. That could change soon, if leaked documents prove true. MobileSyrup received a confidential screenshot from Canadian carrier Bell's internal servers, which seem to show a BlackBerry PlayBook with 4G LTE launching on July 31. That obviously didn't happen, but the 4G BlackBook that RIM promised back in February at Mobile World Congress (and also at a shareholder meeting in July 2011) could finally be on its way.
The sleuths at The Verge were thumbing through court documents in the Apple-Samsung litigation-palooza and came upon this product roadmap that Samsung was forced to surrender as part of the trial. On that roadmap is a mysterious 11.8-inch tablet (codename: "P10") that would challenge the much heralded Retina display of the third-generation iPad. Boy Genius Report first reported -- all the way back in December 2011 -- that Samsung was planning to unveil an 11.6-inch tablet with a Retina-quality display; that device looks to be coming some time before the end of the year (unless Apple sues to keep it from being released).
Sony is simplifying its product line and uniting all of its gadgets under the "Xperia" brand. The very gut German site mobiflip.de got its hands on a slideshow of what appears to be Sony's upcoming plans to launch an Xperia tablet (at left) with a slim, Microsoft Surface-style keyboard. You can view the entire presentation at Mobiflip's website.