A year ago, V3.co.uk dubbed 2009 as 'the year of the smartphone' in a retrospective look over the events of the preceding twelve months. This time around, 2010 has turned out to be 'the year of the tablet', with a frenzy of announcements following the launch of Apple's iPad, and more yet to come.
The iPad was officially unveiled at a special press event in January this year, but like many Apple products, was preceded by a tidal wave of hype and speculation that seemed almost orchestrated in nature.
Since the iPad finally went on sale in the US in April, Apple has sold over seven million units worldwide, according to the most recent figures from October, making it by far the most popular of the new wave of tablet devices, despite reports that Apple has been struggling to keep pace with demand.
However, other vendors have been hot on Apple's heels, with the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab reported to have sold over one million units already since becoming available in November.
There has also been a steady stream of announcements throughout the year, as vendor after vendor decided to jump on the tablet bandwagon, although a great many of these models have yet to make it to market. V3.co.uk reported back in April that vendors including HP, Dell and Toshiba were all planning tablet launches of their own.
Many of these iPad wannabes are based on Google's Android platform, such as the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy Tab, Viewsonic's ViewPad 7, and a forthcoming 7in version of Dell's Streak. However, some industry observers have expressed doubts over whether current versions of the Android software are best suited for the larger tablet screen sizes, and that users will not get a satisfactory experience until version 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb, due next year.
However, some vendors are planning to go it alone with their own platform. RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook does not run the same software as its famous BlackBerry smartphones, but will pair up with one for corporate email access.
HP has also said it intends to ship a tablet device based on WebOS, the platform it gained from its acquisition of Palm earlier this year.
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