iPad killer? You can stop waiting - there isn't going to be one

Steve Ranger's Notebook: Looking for a tablet that will beat Apple's iPad is missing the point...

It's about time tech pundits gave up waiting for an iPad killer: there won't be one. Instead, hardware makers need to rethink their strategy, says silicon.com editor Steve Ranger.

Every half-baked tablet that has rolled off a manufacturer's conveyor belt in the last year and a half has been tarred with the 'could this be the iPad killer?' brush, as lazy commentators ponder whether this or that product is the device that will finally put an end to Apple's dominance.

It hasn't happened yet. And that's because it isn't going to.

You would have thought by now these hardware manufacturers have launched enough iPad wannabes - and seen them sink without trace - to realise one thing: if someone wants a high-end tablet device with lots of apps, that can also play their music collection and lets them easily browse the web, then they're going to buy an iPad. Not something that looks a bit like one, costs about the same - or in some cases, even more - but lacks one or more of the these basic capabilities.

Apple iPad

The tablet market is suffering an attack of the clones as manufacturers look to replicate Apple's slatePhoto: Apple

Consumers aren't stupid, and it's arrogant, lazy and wasteful of tech companies to continue to build products that nobody wants.

But that doesn't mean the iPad will be the only tablet in town.

With the various rivals to Apple's iPad having been tested and fallen by the wayside, only one name has consistently been mentioned as posing a real threat to Apple's tablet dominance: Amazon.

This week, more details emerged about Amazon's supposedly imminent Kindle tablet, the bookstore-cum-cloud-provider-cum-gadget maker's touchscreen device.

It's possible that Amazon's will be the first successful tablet that doesn't hail from Cupertino - I'm not counting the mayfly TouchPad here.

But let me be clear: that doesn't mean it's an iPad killer - it's something different entirely.

If it's not an iPad, what is it?

Techcrunch claims to have played with a prototype of the Kindle tablet, which it said features a colour touchscreen, runs Google's Android operating system and is likely to be launched in November for around $250.

Certainly, there's a lot of enthusiasm out there for this tablet which, incidentally, still hasn't even been confirmed by Amazon, perhaps in an attempt to create some Apple-style buzz.

"Amazon's willingness to sell hardware at a loss combined with the strength of its brand, content, cloud infrastructure and commerce assets makes it the only credible iPad competitor in the market," Forrester Research senior analyst Sarah Rotman Epps wrote in a blog post, adding that if Amazon launches a tablet at less than $300, it could...

By Steve Ranger

Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic. An award-winning journalist, Steve writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture, and regularly appears on TV and radio discussing tech issues. Previously he was th...