Intel, Microsoft, and the Curious Case of the iPad

Brook Crothers:

“That tablet thing? Yeah, we’ll get back to you on that.” That’s a crude but fairly accurate encapsulation of the attitude Microsoft, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices have toward the iPad and the tablet market in general.

Why the cavalier attitude? Before I defer to the opinion of an IDC analyst I interviewed (below), here’s one pretty obvious reason I’ll put forward. All three companies look at their revenue streams — traditional PC hardware and software on laptops, desktops, and servers — and come to the conclusion that the tablet is a marginal market. A deceptively accurate conclusion, because at this point in time — and even 12 months out — the tablet is marginal compared with the gargantuan laptop, desktop, and server markets.

John Gruber had some interesting thoughts on this, and rebutted with this comment:

An interesting take, but I disagree. I think Microsoft and Intel are both taking the iPad’s success extremely seriously. It may be a small market, as of today, but the trend line is heading north at a very steep angle. I think it’s a case where you can’t take what Microsoft and Intel say about it at face value. Intel has no processor to power an iPad-class devic. Microsoft has no OS to run an iPad-class device. Most worrying for these companies may not be the iPad itself, but the fact that iPad competitors — scant though they are, as of today — aren’t running Intel processors or Microsoft software.

Additionally, I think that as more Android driven tablets come out over the next year, they will still be 1-2 years off before they begin to catch up to the feature-set that the iPad launched with in April. And in that time Apple will have released the second version of the iPad, further raising the bar of what they will need to achieve to meet expectations that users have come to expect from the iPad. And even then? I'm sorry, but if I can't get Simplenote, Dropbox, Netflix, Osfoora, Reeder, Instapaper, Flipboard, Deliveries, Airvideo, Kindle, Elements, New York Times, Angry Birrds, Epicurious, Pandora, NPR, Scorecenter, and MLB At Bat all on this mythical Android tablet? Then you have not yet begun to compete with the iPad.