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How not to talk about the Verizon Android-tablet story

I'd write "I told you so," but my forecast in last weekend's column didn't require any special powers of prognostication: Of course we'd see tablet computers based on smartphone operating systems competing with Apple's iPad, and of course wireless carriers besides AT&T would want a piece of that market.

And so yesterday the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News ran separate stories reporting that Verizon Wireless was working with Google to develop a touchscreen tablet computer running its Android operating system.

No other specifics have surfaced, so we can only speculate about such issues as its price, the service plans available, how phone-size Android applications would work on this thing and what sort of battery life it would offer.

While we indulge in that idle speculation, can I make two requests?

1) Don't spin this as "another sign of growing discontent between Google and Apple." It's not "discontent" when one for-profit corporation finds success in a new market and another follows suit by developing a competing product; that behavior is more accurately labeled "capitalism."

2) Don't call this thing an "iPad killer." It's foolish to make such a prediction of a product you haven't seen; every other device that's been labeled an iPod/iPhone/iPad killer has flopped in the market; the entire "[popular gadget] killer" meme is a stupid cliche anyway.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  May 12, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Progress, and a problem for Android
Next: HTC to Apple: We can litigate and innovate, too!


I'm surprised you didn't add one additional caution, Rob. Until there are concrete details about it, let's assume it will never come to market. Given the VZW iPhone, the Nexus One,etc, we know the easiest thing for an analyst to do is speculate that a product is coming or a company to announce a product is coming. A completely different thing to get it to market.

Posted by: dcborn61 | May 12, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Would you please add one other no no of a similar nature:...gate. I am so tired of news media labeling things as xxgate, e.g. Tigergate, etc. Just as iPod/iPhone/iPad killer is overkill so is tagging everything with "gate." Put it to rest media.

Posted by: bullytpt | May 12, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

This is more of a general journalism nature, but avoid forced localizations that do not add to the national story, such as "Clif Parker of Boulder likes his iPad but wishes it had the openness of his Android phone. He may soon get his chance . . .."

But, it's OK to do a Android pad feature wish-list piece. "What would YOU want on an Android pad?" No Christmas allusions, however. And ESPECIALLY no allusions to Christmas and it being early to be talking about Christmas.

Posted by: Bob_Dobbs | May 13, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Apple has been on the ropes for most of its existence and only survived because of a superior operating system and Steve Jobs somewhat unique perfectionism for product design. Now that Apple is a fat cat major player we see the recurring law suits and copycat products of others making grabs for 'a piece of the action.' A lot, and I mean a lot, of time & effort went into iPad design, testing and production.

Though Steve Jobs is now 'the lion in winter' he has struck again with a unique product (like the iPod and iPhone all initially predicted for failure) that has caught on. I would not bet much on those who now would try to quickly market similar gadgets.

Posted by: mosthind | May 13, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine reading this piece in the NY Times? It should be two or three sentences long. "Faster Forward" is the textual equivalent of the cartoon "Cathy."

Posted by: ckimballrun | May 13, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Apple's Iphone was so successful because it was so much sexier and more polished than anything else out there.

But I think that time has come and gone. Iphone is almost feeling old hat, and I'm really starting to wish I had some of the features that Android phones promise - multi-tasking, 4g, Flash, etc.

I give Apple credit for a huge advance with Iphone.

But the competition has caught up, and Iphone's refusal to allow things like real multi-texting and Flash may fit Apple's ideal of a perfect environment, but it's not what the average person will find acceptable once it's clear that you can get those things elsewhere.

And this is coming from an Apple guy - I have a MacBook, an Imac, and am on my third Iphone.

Posted by: Hillman1 | May 13, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

In bullytpt's honor, I think posts about the "[product]-killer" label should be tagged "Killer-gate."

Posted by: dkp01 | May 13, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

The critics rave!

Posted by: Bob_Dobbs | May 13, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

1. Has anyone said anything about an iPad killer?

2. The iPhone is dead - have you even heard of the HTC EVO 4G (which is Android based)? I would hope WaPo would dedicate as much space to the EVO (because it is a revolutionary device) as it does to the iPhone.

3. There is growing discontent between Apple and Google. One of the latest examples is that upcoming versions of the ipod and iphone will not have a Google button but will have generic search buttons.

All of this information is available on blogs like techcrunch, gizmodo, mashable or boygeniusreport. No wonder papers are a dying breed.

Posted by: honeylamb | May 13, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The absolute best Google can do with respect to the iPad at this point is to become a content provider (maps, search, books, etc.). There's a limited market for a tablet infotainment device, and Apple has filled it. There's no one left to sell to in that market.

Posted by: irasciblecurmudgeon | May 13, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that Google should maximize revenue by providing content for the iPad. And whatever other platforms they can. But any tablet-type device which is tied to a single wireless carrier and costs what the iPad does is vulnerable.

If we believe in what Rob labels as "idle speculation", Google will be co-branding a Chromium OS-based netbook at a very attractive price in the next few months. Rob himself has pointed out that the iPad is not mouse-compatible. Sometimes you need more precision than a finger to do things -- like manually changing a route on Google Maps.

Several of my physician friends salivated over the potential of the first wave of tablet PCs, but the software and hardware (3 hours battery life? seriously?) never lived up to its overpromised expectations. That market is still there for a tablet form factor which is not just an "infotainment device".

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | May 14, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

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