Windows 8 vs. Android tablets: Which one has the edge? Try neither

ARM Holdings CEO says that Microsoft has an edge with its upcoming Windows 8 tablets over Android. Oh really?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

ARM Holdings CEO Warren East says tech observers should give Android tablets more time to gain traction in the market. However, he also notes that Microsoft may have a branding edge with Windows 8 tablets.

That face-off is worth noting. Brooke Crothers at CNET News highlights East's comments. The gist is that East thinks Microsoft could have a branding advantage with ARM-based tablets. He was asked about why consumers would buy Windows 8 tablets when they don't really want Android-based versions.

Here's what East said in full from a transcript of an earnings conference call.

On Windows 8 and Android, a few factors to consider, I think. Android tablet shipping in 2011 has been described by some as you've described it. However, I'd say actually when Android phones were introduced, they took off. There was a lot of hype and then actually they didn't take off in the sort of way that reflected that hype. And then a few years later, two years later, we're seeing Android phones shipping at 0.5m units a day, 700,000 units a day and continuing to ramp and really be a very successful product. So I think we should give the Android tablets a little bit more time.

And the second point to note is of course that consumers are very familiar with Microsoft and very familiar with Windows and they're less familiar with an Android environment. So I think Microsoft have an awareness advantage with consumers that the Android folks didn't have. Now it's up to Microsoft exactly how well they're going to exploit that advantage, but I think that's a fundamental difference.

In a nutshell, East is trying to keep two partners happy. He has to say Android tablets will catch on. The natural follow-up question for East boils down to this:

How much time should we give those Android tablets?

You also can't take East's Windows 8 tablet comments all that seriously either. East argues that Windows 8 has a brand advantage due to familiarity. The catch is that Windows 8 is totally new. You could rebrand it non-Windows. The other thread to ponder is whether Windows is a valuable brand for a mobile device. Windows Phone hasn't gained a lot of traction. How will tablets change that equation? Office integration may be the differentiator, but the Windows brand won't be.

East's comments are notable, but a hefty dose of salt may be required.

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