Would a GPad Be Any Better?

Shortly after Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) unveiled its interesting-but-not-terribly-groundbreaking iPad tablet, a video depicting a similarly styled GPad began to make the rounds on the Web.

Would Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) go after Apple in this way? And if so, would a GPad be any better than what we've seen so far?

Yes and no
That's not an easy question to answer, if only because the iPhone-Nexus One battle doesn't equate. Telecom is a mature market that's more attuned to whole products, vertically integrated. Tablet buyers are more likely to be early adopters, and thus more tolerant of unfinished technology. That's a problem for Apple, which specializes in the Big Reveals of finished products.

Google, by contrast, specializes in open, iterative design. Openness is the better approach for the tablet market, because there's so much uncertainty about what tablets should and shouldn't do.

Witness Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) . The e-tailer claims ownership of the most successful tablet to date -- the Kindle e-reader -- yet continues to wrestle with publishers over pricing, as seen in its brief spat with Macmillan.

Google, a born disruptor, does its best work when uncertainty reigns. Apple does its best work reimagining entire industries, and then building technology to fit its vision.

Manhattan vs. Hollywood
Both are valid approaches for attacking the still-emerging tablet market. I'd put my money on the business model that attracts the most partners.

Apple is likely to find allies in newspaper companies, such as New York Times (NYSE: NYT  ) and Gannett (NYSE: GCI  ) , while Google, were it to move forward with a GPad, could strike deals with Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) Columbia Pictures, Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) Warner Bros., and other studios unhappy with the iPad's limited video-playback capabilities.

Any move by Google to enter the tablet business will likely be preceded by a store that mirrors what it has planned with Google Apps, and what Apple already has with iTunes. Think of it as Android Market for the GPad. Tie-ups with other stores, such as Amazon's e-malls for books and videos, would also make sense. Either way, this would be a battle worth watching.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Are you an unabashed iPad fan, or would you consider a GPad? How about Hewlett-Packard's Windows-based alternative? Make your voice heard using the comments box below.

Apple and Amazon are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is on call, 24-7, 365 days a year.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2010, at 1:13 PM, demodave wrote:

    "That's not an easy question to answer, if only because the iPhone-Nexus One battle doesn't equate. Telecom is a mature market that's more attuned to whole products, vertically integrated. Tablet buyers are more likely to be early adopters, and thus more tolerant of unfinished technology. That's a problem for Apple, which specializes in the Big Reveals of finished products."

    A problem for Apple? That's a rather silly statement. Apple ugrades and refreshes its product lines just like any other tech manufacturer. Witness iPhone rev one, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3Gs. They are all incremental improvements. The same can be said for OS X or iPhone OS, which have evolved through several revisions.

    "... and other studios unhappy with the iPad's limited video-playback capabilities."

    That sounds like pure cockamamy bull. Your only source for that statement is a statement that you made yourself in another article:

    "Enter Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad, which debuted last week with little in the way of studio support. Moviemakers have good reason to be skeptical of the iPad; it's a shiny, mostly worthless piece of iCandy whose video capabilities are limited to iTunes downloads. It also doesn't support Adobe's (Nasdaq: ADBE) Flash technology."

    Show us just one moviemaker who has said they are skeptical of the iPad. You know, evidence, data, or proof. Everything that people who had the iPad in their hands at the coming out party said it's screamingly fast. How can that be bad for video? (And don't go back to your line of Flash BS. The iTunes Store has boatloads of movies, all in very clearly monetizeable format. Money makes moviemakers happy.)

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2010, at 1:37 PM, demodave wrote:

    Are you intentionally setting up fallacious arguments?

    "That's not an easy question to answer, if only because the iPhone-Nexus One battle doesn't equate. Telecom is a mature market that's more attuned to whole products, vertically integrated. Tablet buyers are more likely to be early adopters, and thus more tolerant of unfinished technology. That's a problem for Apple, which specializes in the Big Reveals of finished products."

    Apple updates and refreshes its product lines just like any other technology company. Witness iPhone rev one, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS, which all show evolutionary improvements. The same can be said for OS X or iPhone OS, which post regular updates and less frequent full-on refreshes.

    "... and other studios unhappy with the iPad's limited video-playback capabilities."

    Where on earth are you getting this from? The only support you seem to have for that statement is to link to something that you yourself wrote in another article:

    "Enter Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad, which debuted last week with little in the way of studio support. Moviemakers have good reason to be skeptical of the iPad; it's a shiny, mostly worthless piece of iCandy whose video capabilities are limited to iTunes downloads. It also doesn't support Adobe's (Nasdaq: ADBE) Flash technology."

    iTunes downloads abound. That's half the point of having a WiFi iPad. You can play your content at home without even storing it on the iPad. N-WiFi is already fast enough. And the iTunes downloads are fully monetized. Moviemakers like money, so I don't see the problem here. Show concrete evidence that the moviemakers are actually saying they don't like the iPad. You know, provide data, evidence, ... proof!

    The Flash argument is weak. There's plenty of drivel on both sides of that debate, but it really has no major muscle behind it. Adobe isn't the only way to deliver content. I agree that its a hassle to (not) view some websites because of their Flash setups, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with delivering movie content on an iPad.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2010, at 1:54 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    Flash is a far-less-than-stellar format for quality video playback. Studios dissing the iPad for lack of Flash would be like the military dissing Boeing for lack of propeller planes! Why assemble a beautiful, high-definition movie only to play it back through Flash? Look, it's great for porn clips and homemade videos of dogs on skateboards, but this constant drumbeat of Flash, Flash, Flash is an endless feedback loop of misinformation.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2010, at 2:35 PM, demodave wrote:

    Something in Fooldom's website is broke. It must be Flash-based. ;)

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2010, at 3:09 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    Hello demondave,

    >>Apple updates and refreshes its product lines just like any other technology company.

    No it doesn't. Google and Apple couldn't be more different in the way they iterate and upgrade products.

    >>iTunes downloads abound.

    Sure, but the form factor for the iPad is different and Apple needs studios to get behind the format and the product. They weren't present at the unveiling, just as they weren't present for the unveiling of the first generation of Apple TV.

    Apple could get there with Hollywood, but let's not pretend studios are lining up to have content delivered to the device.

    >>Show concrete evidence that the moviemakers are actually saying they don't like the iPad. You know, provide data, evidence, ... proof!

    Here's a look at the Hollywood skeptics:

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i...

    And:

    http://www.deadline.com/hollywood/how-will-ipad-launch-affec...

    And:

    http://brainstormtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2010/02/05/enter...

    Thanks for your comments and Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2010, at 6:51 PM, Eerkes wrote:

    mighty dangerous to say anything leaning towards negativity regarding apple - careful

  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2010, at 1:54 AM, demodave wrote:

    Hey, I'm game for a cynical slice:

    http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/100209/us_on_the_call_disney_ipad.ht...

    Yes, it's Disney saying the iPad is a game-changer, and yes, Disney=Pixar=Jobs, so they are all in bed together. They may indeed be, um, helping eachother out. But they could also be thick as thieves because they plan to run away with the gold together. Making money is making money.

    And Disney is saying that the iPad is or could be a game-changer. That's not nothing.

    Thanks for providing ostensibly neutral links. (I think I'd already seen the tophat one.) I'll check 'em out.

    (No, really, I will. I am a Mac fanatic, but I don't mind actually researching the contrary view, if it has merit - totally regardless of the fact that I may later ignore it.)

    Can you clarify the following?

    "No it [Apple] doesn't [update and refresh its product lines]. Google and Apple couldn't be more different in the way they iterate and upgrade products."

  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2010, at 8:52 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    Hello demondave,

    >>Can you clarify the following?

    "No it [Apple] doesn't [update and refresh its product lines]. Google and Apple couldn't be more different in the way they iterate and upgrade products."

    Sure. The key phrase that you didn't include is "just like any other technology company."

    I don't think it's fair to say that Apple is like any other technology company, and it's certainly nothing like Google in how it builds and releases products.

    Apple is:

    * Extremely secretive about product design.

    * Eager to line up partners and supporters before a launch.

    * Slow to go to market, using Vaudevillian on-stage events to build buzz.

    * Careful, afraid of failure.

    Google is:

    * Extremely open about product design.

    * Eager to launch products in order to get community feedback.

    * A rare user of organized press events.

    * Aggressive, unafraid of failure.

    Does this help? I hope so.

    Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2010, at 2:28 PM, demodave wrote:

    OK, I see your comparison points, so I see where your thought process is going. So that part helps. :)

    Just don't know if I totally agree. I see the sharing of the SDK as contradictory to "secrecy" (but obviously necessary to business). I think more and more I see Apple as "aggressive". I think, given all the buzz that existed before the iPad announcement/event, it would be hard to lay the blame on Apple for the buzz, and it was (at least IMNSHO) not nearly as Vaudevillian event as we might have expected.

    I dunno. We do clearly have differing opinions, though!

    I will certainly say that some aspects of Apple's secrecy do frustrate me as a customer. Specifically, not knowing when the new line will be refreshed and when it will be available. I like to plan such purchases, or at least know how long I will have to wait (a data point in itself) to make a decision.

  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2010, at 2:37 PM, demodave wrote:

    OK, I see your comparison points, so I see where your thought process is going. So that part helps. :)

    Just don't know if I totally agree. I see the sharing of the SDK as contradictory to "secrecy" (but obviously necessary to business). I think more and more I see Apple as "aggressive". I think, given all the buzz that existed before the iPad announcement/event, it would be hard to lay the blame on Apple for the buzz, and it was (at least IMNSHO) not nearly as Vaudevillian event as we might have expected.

    I dunno. We do clearly have differing opinions, though!

    I will certainly say that some aspects of Apple's secrecy do frustrate me as a customer. Specifically, not knowing when the new line will be refreshed and when it will be available. I like to plan such purchases, or at least know how long I will have to wait (a data point in itself) to make a decision.

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