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In a Wall Street Journal interview yesterday, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam revealed that the carrier is working with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) on a tablet. The leading search engine's role in the venture isn't entirely clear, though McAdam did mention that the two companies are "working on tablets together" that will probably rely on Google's Android as its operating system.
They're too late
If Google and Verizon Wireless are simply in the planning stages of the new tablet, we're probably talking about a device that is several quarters away. Apple is going to add millions of iPad owners with every passing quarter, making it that much harder for a new entrant to make its mark.
Heck, even now may be too late. Given the iPad's specs, apps, and price point, tablets that had long been on the drawing board -- Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ ) Slate and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Courier -- have been shelved.
HP is apparently going to give it another go, with plans to roll out a webOS tablet later this year. You didn't think it was buying Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) in a $1.2 billion deal just for webOS smartphones, did you?
It won't matter, though. This is Apple's game to lose. If established players are bowing out now, Verizon Wireless doesn't stand much of a chance when iPads become even more ubiquitous.
Verizon Wireless can always argue that it can market its tablet aggressively through its site. It can also offer a subsidized model tethered to a wireless contract. However, now that the 3G iPad model has an unlimited data plan available for a rock-bottom $30 a month, sans contract, the "there's a map for that" people are going to have a hard time pitching pricier, longer data plans.
I understand that Verizon Wireless needs to be in this market because portable connectivity is going to be a major part of the tablet growth story. However, just because it has to be there, that doesn't mean it stands a chance to make a difference.
Does an Android-powered tablet stand a chance against the iPad? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.