Can Sony compete against Apple's iPad with its own tablet PC?

Can Sony compete against Apple's iPad with its own tablet PC?

Summary: Everyone seems to be getting into the tablet PC game, hoping to steal some mind (and wallet) share from Apple's iPad, and that includes Sony. According to reports from PC World and the Financial Times, Sony's CFO Nobuyuki Oneda recently stated that “Sony is very much interested in this segment of the market and we have [the] necessary technology.


Everyone seems to be getting into the tablet PC game, hoping to steal some mind (and wallet) share from Apple's iPad, and that includes Sony. According to reports from PC World and the Financial Times, Sony's CFO Nobuyuki Oneda recently stated that “Sony is very much interested in this segment of the market and we have [the] necessary technology."

Considering that Sony completely whiffed on its chances to compete with the iPod and failed miserably with the Mylo family of mobile communication devices (remember those?), it might not be the best competitor to take on Steve Jobs' latest creation. On the other hand, Sony's e-book readers have been well received, and the company is a major laptop player. One strike against the Japanese electronics giant: Oneda already admits that "There is no denying that we are running a bit behind" Apple's forthcoming launch.

So how can Sony compete when Apple clearly has momentum (from its built-in fanboy audience, if not a more skeptical general public) and may be able to create an iPad ecosystem of customized apps that extends the successful iPhone infrastructure? It may release a tablet with its own app store, but Sony's previous attempts at these marketplaces (be it for music or otherwise) have flopped. It could create one running a version of Windows 7, though that wouldn't necessarily have apps that are specifically designed to run for the device. Let's not forget that there have been Windows-based tablets for some time now, and they've only attracted a niche audience.

Is Sony the top company to challenge the iPad? If not, who else is best equipped to rumble with Apple, tablet style? And how can they beat the iPad at its own game (running simultaneous apps would be a good place to start)? Or can they? Let us know in the TalkBack Section.

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • As long as everyone thinks the competitor to the

    iPad is tablet PC, they will lose right out of the gate.

    The iPad is not a tablet PC. But, of course, the techies will never be able
    to wrap their brain around that concept.
    • Well, yes, depending on how you define "tablet", but, MS sure does not get

      it trying to run Win7.
  • The best competition for iPad is Google running Arm. Windows on x86 will

  • If apple plays up the CourseSmart link, Apple wins.

    See this :

    If this was an apple exclusive, as ATT enjoys
    with the iPhone, then It would be hard for
    anyone else to get into the tablet game. Win 7
    based tablets, if sold cheaply enough, are
    better for students than the Ipad is in it's
    current form, and post secondary student
    adoption is the path(in my opinion, the only
    path) to tablet success.

    Ask me how I know, as the saying goes. I know,
    because I save roughly 40% on my texts every
    semester utilizing the afore-linked company. On
    average, I only have 20% of my texts in school
    not available from that company. At this rate,
    the iPad, even if solely used as a textbook
    replacement, pays for itself in a few
    semesters. If the advertising makes it to
    campuses, I'd expect 50% of the students to
    have them within 1-2 years. I'd expect an iPad
    optimized version of Blackboard to follow.

    with 20 million post-secondary students at any
    given time and 5 million new ones cycling in
    each year, it's a market that can make or break
    the iPad, but I'm going to lean towards Make...
    • For years, MS Tablet owning students have been videoing lectures with 'em.

      Dunno if they ever watched the videos, though... And no, video camera wasn't generally standard. But it is now, isn't it!

      In a lecture, it's been said, knowledge passes into the student's notebook from the teacher's, without passing through the brain of either. And they were talking about paper.

      Automating that process saves so much time!
      Robert Carnegie 2009
      • From teacher to tablet

        The problem with going from the teacher to the tablet without passing through the brain is that, while it saves time, there is no retension. I always tell my kids, "The best way to study is to rewrite your notes." The concept is great, but not in a learning environment. It think its place would be better served in a board meeting, rather than passing out all the paper reports (save another tree or two).
  • Sony and App$e make crapware!

    Don't buy them.
    • Ho-hum...

      Okay, I'll bite. Just what crapware did you have in mind? Please be
      specific so we can tell if you know what you are talking about. Then we
      put your comments in their proper category.
      John of VA
  • Steve should give them away GRATIS...

    ...FREE. He can still make jillions from peddling Apple payware, and locking the device down to iTOONS.
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
  • Sony is a failure when it comes to Innovation

    GOOGLE is the only hope for a good enough competition. I
    cannot wait to get an iPad and I still wish for a
    competing product to iPad which will drive Apple to
    continue and innovate.
  • Compete? Sony can KILL Apple

    All they have to do is make the unit 16x9 and incorporate
    a Blu-ray player. A combo tablet and Blu-ray video
    portable player would not only kill the iPad, it would
    eventually kill Apple.

    Because Jobs would die rather than incorporate Blu-ray
    after such a move, and he would be taking Apple with him.
    Apple computers without Blu-ray support are not only
    obsolescent 2005 technology, they will soon be utterly

    And Jobs has the gall to take on Adobe and flash at the
    same time. Like Hitler in his bunker.

    The world is at least a decade away from the time when
    everyone will have enough bandwith to quickly steal Blu-
    ray quality major movies. And while mp3 might have
    sufficed for audio which few people have ears for, ANYONE
    who's compared Blu-ray with DVD on a 65" plasma can see
    and appreciate the night and day difference. And with
    prices coming down, even the naysayers will eventually
    want Blu-ray quality for video.

    I'm not a gamer so I don't have any of the gamer's
    irrational hatred for Sony. Sony is going to win this one,
    and they deserve to, as they are the ones innovating while
    Jobs is raving that the world isn't his personal playtoy.
  • blu-ray; nope... i think it's about convergence and integration

    ok, interesting point that blu-ray is needed on a tablet, but I think you've made some errors...

    Firsty, music is much easier to share over the internet and yet digital non-drm'd music is freely and legally available yet the more difficult to share video (larger files, less people sharing) is not available free of drm. Why? The market demanded it; we're getting fed up of DRM. We want to consume media the way we want to; legally at the right price.

    Why? people nly want to buy media once, and they want to carry it with them so they can consume it where they want, on the train... carrying blu-ray discs is inconvenient.

    Bluray also isnt relevant due to the resolution and size of the display on a tablet.

    So in my opinion a tablet with blu-ray would be tiny and not make an impact.. the additional bulk and the power drain of the drive, then the power-drain of decoding high-res material to fit on a low-res screen...

    A tablet with multi-tasking (for music playback & IM) a hybrid e-ink display (for ebooks) and ideally the ability to connect a (over bluetooth or some sort of snap-in (so the sound and controls for phone calls get routed through the same touchscreen device you are already interacting with)...

    this is xonvergence - a trend we've been seeing for years... why have tablets & ebooks not looked to integrate more with the equipment we all have?
    • Panasonic will do all right with their Blu-ray portable

      Then I guess Panasonic is dumb for making their Blu-ray portable player.
      Google Panasonic Blu-ray portable.
  • Apple is the one getting into the table game...

    Apple was late to the tablet party folks. Just because they have a over-zealous fan base doesn't exclude them from their proper place, in the back of the line...
  • RE: Can Sony compete against Apple's iPad with its own tablet PC?

    Sony, makes a decent laptop, but not the greatest, and they are quick to turn away customers who upgrade from the original OEM system. They refuse to move forward and support past products with simple device drivers even when the product is only 2 years old. If this is any sense as to where SONY will FAIL then that is the start of it.

    Now moving forward, offering Windows multitasking tablet that is up to date would be great, but it needs to have essentials to it and not so bear-bones like the iPad is. Also, if they really wanted that feel of wanting to compete against Apple, build it with a dual booting feature, let it give you the choice to run Windows 7 or Android 2.+. Then they need not worry about an App Store, they will have one already in use, and one that is successful.

    Also, on a personal note, I would like to see the use of a hidden area for a memory card, or at least rubber caps to protect the slots from damage due to spills.

    Also, if they release the tablet with the minimum amount of spec needed it will FAIL. Already people are talking about the 2nd Gen iPad and how much stronger it will be of a product. If the Sony version is already there, they they would be much more ahead of the game and people would know their dollar would last longer.

    One last thing, SONY needs to get away from INTEL video, and start to consider others like ATI or NVIDIA for performance otherwise Apple is going to kill them in that area as well.

    Lets see Bluetooth 2.1+, Wireless N+, at least 4gb of Ram, with 8gb as an option. Allow for the use of Memory Stick Pro Duo, and SDHC, and maybe even Compact flash, Dual camera support so college kids can use it to video their lectures, and then be able to Skype home to their families & friends as well (rotating cameras will only cause breakdown issues). Will SONY listen and make a Apple killer, doubt it. Their would be afraid it would turn out like their PS3, guaranteed it would NOT be the case.
  • Sony and Mac = Mony

    Give me a Mac on Sony hardware - you get me. Give me the ability to connect with my other Sony devices, as my Vaio does now on a Mac iPad - again, you get me. Give me the ability to run some iPhone type apps on my PS3, you get me! Give me Bluray on my Mac - you get me!

    But how would we react to Apple and Sony working together? There would be a tide of lawsuits, (like Nokia suing Apple) that the two would have to deal with. Google would snap up Amazon - or attempt to.

    Things would get REAL interesting.
  • RE: Can Sony compete against Apple's iPad with its own tablet PC?

    Archos 9. Nuff said.
  • Sony is a QC nightmare...

    Why people continue to by their computer products is a total mystery to me.

    Flashy product,but the QC is a joke.

    I have so many clients that buy those pieces of garbage after I warn them not to,and then they complain when they have to send them in for repair to San Diego as the smaller footprint notebooks are unrepairable in the field.

    I would expect the same with their tablet product.
  • RE: Can Sony compete against Apple's iPad with its own tablet PC?

    Nokia might be a serious contender with their Maemo OS. Could they be bringing out a touch tablet?
  • RE: Can Sony compete against Apple's iPad with its own tablet PC?

    I wish SOMEONE would get the configurations right. As a college professor, I have loved using my tablet pcs for downloading, grading, saving, and sending back student papers and presentations. I write my comments on them directly, just like grading hardcopy papers. I use my tablet to draw graphics and diagrams for lectures and web courses. I use them to take to conferences, and to do off-campus presentations. I use it to take notes in meetings, and then distribute them to other faculty and committee members without having to re-type my notes. It is also great to have student papers saved to see when students are "sharing" papers, and for when accreditors need to see samples of student productivity. But I need a lightweight computer with a big enough screen to see what I am doing, not a tiny handheld device I have to scroll around to see a page. A webacam is nice, but not why I use a computer. I need internet connectivity, not a telephone. I need a lot of memory. And this gets to why my last notebook replacement was a regular laptop, not another tablet. The price difference for pen technology is no longer justified in choosing between a tablet and a notebook with a HUGE 4-6G RAM and a 360G or 500G hard drive. Tablet technology is no longer new - I have gone through 2 tablets since they first arrived on the scene - and it is no longer worth a premium price if it doesn't have the MEMORY. Which after all, is what drives educators. Won't someone please make a tablet that really is a substitute for a desktop in its functions, and not just an entertainment toy?