Before 2010 tablet PCs did not really exist. The only devices with touch screens were smartphones and a few PDAs. Although the technology for tablet PCs had been around it was never good enough for it to be commercially successful. Apple had revolutionized the mobile phone market with its well engineered and designed iPhone but expanding this device to become tablet size would not be as easy as first thought. It took a number of years for the technology to be acceptable enough to run on a larger device.
The main problem that tablets faced was the operating system (OS) needed to run them. Microsoft, in previous years, tried to implement full versions of windows on its PDAs with disastrous results. The conclusion was that the devices were not powerful enough to run the software and the user experience was compromised because of it. Apple revolutionized the phone and tablet market because of their software. It was complex and light enough (in terms of size) to be run on small devices with a very good user experience. Once Apple had shown other companies how to make the perfect operating system for mobile devices, they could then follow on. Google produced Android, an open sourced operating system, which allowed companies to customize the OS so they could deliver a unique experience to their own users. It also gives companies a chance to disguise the software and make it more unique to their brand. As the Android OS developed, it became steadily better and a stronger contender for the Apple Software. Windows also began to develop their own software but they did not release it until a few years after Apple and Google, which has put them at a disadvantage.
Apple's iOS software allowed them to create the iPad, which was the first competitive tablet to be released. Apple was at an advantage because of their software. The hardware in the tablet was not the best available but it was good enough to run the software. The original iPad lacked a camera and did not feature a high definition screen – a feature that was available on the iPhone 4, however this did not matter. The reputation they had secured from their iPhone and the App store was enough to make the iPad the best selling tablet computer around.
Other manufacturers also made a foray into the tablet market but it took them a few months to bring their devices to market. This cave Apple a resounding lead in the tablet market since they faced little to no competition. Samsung released the Galaxy Tab which ran Android OS, though Google had yet to release their dedicated tablet software – something that would not be released until 2011. This made the tablet experience not as fluid and enjoyable as using the iPad. The Android 2.x was created for mobile phones and, as such, full tablet compatibility was not achievable from this OS. This allowed Apple to extend their lead in the tablet market.
The iPad 2 was released in late 2010 to much excitement. A new design, and updated software and features mean that it flew off the shelves with demand vastly outstripping supply. It was not until Google released Android 3.0 that other competitors could actually compete with the iPad. The new OS was created specifically for use in tablets and this mean that a whole host of features were now available and the user experience was vastly increased. Tablet creation for Android 3.0 is still in its infancy and as of today there are only been a useful of tablets using this software. Microsoft also released its Windows 7 software in late 2010 and currently there are few tablets with this software. Microsoft is now in the process of developing Windows 8 which will be able to run on computers, mobiles and tablets and looks very promising.