My week in mobile: Google Play vs. Apple’s iPad

This week, as ever, has been a battle for hearts and minds among the big players in digital. Ahead of Apple’s big hardware announcement (more on that later!), Google revealed an overhaul of the Android Market, transforming it into Google Play and rationalising their assets under one roof, looking to cement a fresh start going forwards.
Last week at Mobile World Congress, Andy Rubin, Senior VP of Mobile at Google, told reporters about their increased tablet focus: ‘2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we’re winning in that space’. Despite Android being the most popular OS on smartphones, the same success hasn’t come easily to their tabs. At this stage, there are few Android tablet apps, very few good ones, and they are difficult to find in the store.
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, speaks about the new iPad during the launch of the new version of the tablet device in San Francisco on March 7, 2012.  
The unveiling of the ‘new iPad’ on Wednesday brought with it nothing earth-shattering; evolutionary improvements including a higher-resolution Retina display, a bigger A5X processor, a better five-megapixel rear camera, and 4G LTE connectivity – which many countries, including the UK, do not currently have the infrastructure to support. Although it was definitely an anti-climax, the impressive screen capabilities will allow for further advances in rich media advertising.
Apple’s tablets have just over 60% market share globally, leaving Google’s Android OS struggling to compete in a saturated post-PC market. When the iPad was first released in 2010, Apple already had users educated in iOS. The iPad 2 brought the perceived necessary feature of a camera, and a flat back for typing, to what was already a revolutionary product. 
Apple sold more iPads in Q4 last year than any computer manufacturer in the world sold PCs. Viewers of the press conference were surprised to hear a direct attack on Samsung’s devices from Tim Cook, as Apple has traditionally focused on its superiority rather than others’ shortcomings. Samsung was quick to issue a rather compelling response.
The iPad is likely, yet again, to be the fastest-selling piece of tech ever invented, with InMobi finding last week that 1 in 3 US mobile web users intended to buy it. It will hit stores across the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and Japan on 16th March, perhaps the most ambitious part of their plan. 
The simultaneous price drop of the iPad 2 will further choke competitors in the tablet space. Apple has also made a change to the App Store that now offers catalogues their own section, perhaps acknowledging the tablet’s impressive role in mcommerce, and once again demonstrating their market leadership. Given Windows 8 is now in beta, we are expecting Microsoft to level some kind of ‘screen agnostic’ solutions soon. The jury is still out on whether this is a feasible and viable competitor.
Apple has dealt another blow to Google, in the form of plans to drop their Maps service in favour of their own, just months after Google started charging businesses for use…  It seems very difficult for other developers to overcome Apple’s dominance in the tablet market. And each tweak of services, from Facebook to Amazon, is an attempt to inch ahead in the great global tech race.

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