Good Luck With That iPad Killer, Google

The initial success of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad -- a million strong in the first month and counting -- is attracting a familiar rival.

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.

However, the deck is stacked against Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD  ) , the two companies that combined to create Verizon Wireless.

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.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.   

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves his iPad, but he's not totally against picking up a rival tablet if it's up to snuff. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (14)

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  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 3:44 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    There's room in the game for another tablet without it needing to be an "iPad Killer". I think the entire notion of a "killer" is a bit ridiculous as a measure of success. Mac OSX wasn't a "Windows Killer", yet has been phenomenally successful. The measure of success should be margin and impact to revenue...not whether the competition is stopped in its tracks. There will always be a contingency out there that simply will NEVER buy an Apple product. Can a competitor capitalize on that market?

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 3:59 PM, gilsh wrote:

    horrible article.

    there is no such thing as a safe edge in computing.

    remember MAC in 1985 ? when did Microsoft catch up ? years later ! where is apple today in that nieche ?

    remember Netscape in the mid-nineties ? where is it now ?

    remember Internet explorer in the beginning of this decade ? and all-of-a-sudden chrome and Firefox are taking bits and chunks...

    there is only one rule at IT products: you can always lose ground. you can always take ground. the cycles of products are 2-3 years at most, and if you lose a round, you can always show up at the next one, and take market share away from the "clear winner" of the near past...

    and if there has been a company that appeared to be qualified for doing that - it is google, the one that has proven worthy of facing Microsoft.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:04 PM, Techlog wrote:

    I heard somebody saying that he bough a iPad, and really interrogate himself why he did that. He already have a portable, and now he look at his purchase like another non-indispensable gadget . This said, don't worry, IT is a constant progress. I am expecting a lot for example from HP. They had a terrific product in the Slate, but had to follow Microsoft for the software. Now with webOS, they are free to built and market what they want to. Stay tune.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:32 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    I never, ever bet against Google. Do I think Google will knock out the iPad? Absolutely not. But do I think Google can successfully compete? Certainly.

    As Turfscape says above, the measure of success is impact on revenue. Google and Verizon can, and likely will, profit from a competing entry. If anybody has the innovative chops to tangle with Apple (an admittedly formidable foe), it's Google. And Verizon is a marketing machine. It's an alliance that won't dominate Apple, but can certainly compete.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 7:18 PM, lylef2000 wrote:

    Google certainly has the ability to be competitive. However teaming up with VZ is a noose around their neck. They should not contract themselves with one carrier. Sprint is a good carrier and has been quietly upgrading their network all along without slinging mud at their competitors. My personal experience with vz was not good. I did not like to pay the roaming charges. ( it was a few years ago)

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2010, at 7:06 PM, wrongdog wrote:

    Has Google lost its way?

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2010, at 2:04 PM, gman5556 wrote:

    Google won't be making one of these. They will however team up with manufacturers to allow the use of Android and having users hooked up to their cloud. Thats all Google cares about and that is the extent to which any relationship will reach. Google isn't in the business of selling these or any other device; they just want the content.

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