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.