Are you skipping tablets because the OS doesn't match your phone's?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: July 8, 2011

If you think that tablet manufacturers should slow down, those same manufacturers would probably tell you that that’s just not going to happen anytime soon. After all, the tablet market is one of the most vicious, so slowing down would surely mean an instant death for those manufacturers in that particular market. And they can’t have that. However, there are a lot of tablets out there, all of which focus on the mobile operating system in some capacity or another to sell their product. The hardware matters, sure, but it’s the software that attracts the eye, and eventually the dollar. But, does your choice of software for a tablet matter in comparison to the software you’ve chosen to use in your smartphone?

As of right now, it would seem that iOS- and Android-powered tablets are the most generalized of all the tablets out there. This is easier for the iOS-running devices, considering there are only two variations to deal with. For the Android side of things, though, it’s a bit more of a feat, with the ridiculous number of Android-powered tablets out there. The only trouble in that department comes in the fact that most of these tablets aren’t running the same version of Android, but for this discussion, that’s not an important factor.

Research In Motion and HP have both launched their very first tablets recently, the BlackBerry PlayBook and HP TouchPad respectively. Both tablets are powerhouses in their own right, and both devices run the very latest versions of their mobile operating systems. (In the case of the PlayBook, it’s a brand new OS in its entirety.) However, the biggest difference between the tablets from RIM and HP, when compared to the iOS- and Android-powered competition, is that the PlayBook and TouchPad are marketed as natural extensions to their mobile phone counterparts. For Android and iOS, the tablets are meant as extensions of you, and don’t really have any specific features that connect your tablet to your similar smartphone.

Both the BlackBerry PlayBook and HP TouchPad have very specific features that link their smartphones to the tablet, and vice versa. For the TouchPad, it’s the touch-to-share feature. This allows for someone to put their HP Pre 3 phone against an HP TouchPad, and share a URL with the TouchPad (or to the Pre 3 from the TouchPad) just by touching the devices. For the PlayBook, it’s all about the bridge, and pretty much needing a BlackBerry smartphone to access things like email and calendar.

Both of these features, and a few others within the tablet devices, make them unique in their own right, but also mean that if you want the absolute full experience with them, then you need to have a similarly-branded smartphone. While this may seem like a non-issue to some, especially to those who bought one of the tablets mentioned above without having a webOS or BlackBerry OS smartphone, it would seem to me that this is more of a deterrent for the average consumer, rather than anything else. After all, using a smartphone and using a tablet are different, and even if someone loves webOS on a tablet, they may not like it on their smartphone.

It should also be mentioned that iOS is coming closer to this strategy as well, thanks to their brand new iCloud service. It’s an integral part of iOS 5, and it makes it possible for someone with another iOS-powered device to share media from one device to another, all from the cloud. While it’s not exactly like the aforementioned features from the other manufacturers, it’s obviously a way for Apple to make sure that people with an iPad 2 are more likely to carry an iPhone in their pocket as well.

If you’ve got an Android-powered phone, are you more likely to buy an Android-powered tablet? Or are you willing to get a tablet with a different OS, based solely on its hardware or software, without needing it to be the same OS as your smartphone? Or, are you someone who’s skipping over these other tablets, despite being attracted to their features, because you don’t carry a similarly-powered smartphone? Let me know in the comments below.