ipad_thumb.pngWhen Apple's (news, site) iPad stormed the world and spawned endless slate clones, it was still considered a toy by many. The next generation will prove otherwise.

Take the Tablet

In a funny old week at CES, we've seen the next version of Windows veer into the tablet space and seen previews of Android 3.0 which aims to offer a lot more "computing" for tablets rather than simply have them acting as supersize smartphones.

Along with some rather rabid reporting on possible glimpses of iPad 2 cases and docks, and you have a strange mix of distant and coming-soon news that shows where the market is going, but does little to ignite it. Until there are some solid releases then we're a little bit in limbo, but we can draw some logical conclusions.

iComing to a Business Near You

Both Google's Android and Apple are targeting the business with their next iteration tablet devices. Executives and knowledge workers are seeing the light (in several senses) when it comes to not lugging heavy laptop bags around.

To help users work better, the iPad2 is rumored to come (deep breath) in Verizon 3G and AT&T 3G flavors, as well as a Wi-Fi only version. It may have a dual core processor to handle more intensive tasks, it should also follow the iPhone 4 in having front-and-back cameras for FaceTime conferencing.

It may also come equipped with a USB port for more industrial data transfer performance and is expected to launch in February, or March, or April, or possibly later. Such are the vagaries of life with Apple.

Android 3.0 Sees the Light

We know a fair bit more about Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), the upcoming version tablet-centric operating system. In fact, there's even some video floating about showing it at work and highlighting its tailored-for-tablet design. Its success in being ahead of the game does leave us wondering what will happen to Google's flavor of last month, Chrome OS?


We also saw the Motorola Xoom tablet in action, with Samsung and HTC also being roped in as lead developers. These devices will all work with Bluetooth headsets, keyboards and so on, making them more office friendly. The Xoom claims PC-like performance with multitasking, the ability to open and edit documents, plus data encryption for business security.


Will Xoom win a place in your office?

So, both major players have some time to get their business legs under them before a new generation of Windows-powered devices (and don't forget BlackBerry) come muscling in on the action. With activity so busy in this hot, hot sector, developments will come thick and fast, and anyone found lagging stands to lose acres of market share in a short time.