Is Apple Stealing Microsoft’s Tablet Thunder?

Apple iPhoneIt’s a valid question. Like so many cutting-edge technologies Microsoft takes a stab at, its tablet and Origami technologies are poorly implemented from a consumer perspective and, even worse for them, disastrously marketed.

So consider how Apple took the mundane MP3 player that was already an established device and turned it into the iPod craze. They’re very effectively driving Macs into peoples’ homes and hearts by presenting them less as computers and more as standard home appliances. Pundits generally agree that the AppleTV will slay its pre-existing competition (due in no small part to the massive installed base of iTunes users base) and reinvent the way we consume filmic and television media.

Is Apple headed for another victory with its upcoming touch-based platform?

Microsoft’s been building an effective touch and stylus operating environment for years now with its Tablet PC operating system (that’s now integrated into Vista). However, its market penetration is dismal and the technology remains decidedly niche. Users of the tablet environment rave about it, yet manufacturers have failed miserably at marketing and selling these products, choosing to rely on the efforts of self-proclaimed tablet and UMPC (ultra-mobile PC) evangelists.

Well, they’d best be wary of the coming onslaught of Apple hardware based on the touch-driven environment that’s going to be introduced with the iPhone. If there’s one thing that Apple excels at these days it’s sales and marketing. Apple understands that technology is as much about lifestyle as functionality. However, the iPhone platform promises to be superior to Microsoft’s Tablet PC, which will provide a significant boost to its credibility. For example, instead of the tablet environment’s single point control system (i.e. using one finger or one stylus tip) the iPhone platform can handle up to 16 points of contact that can be combined for multiple different methods of control.

In a sense it’d be sad to see Microsoft take (yet another) beating, this time in their mature tablet niche. But on the other hand, it’s a case of may-the-best-technology win, and if Apple couples their effective marketing machine with a better functional environment, it’s gonna be nothing but lumps for the Gates camp.