Atlanta, GA 6/26/12 (StreetBeat) -- Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) has cemented its dominance in the tablet market, but that hasn't stopped competitors from trying to chip away at the iPad's market share and fight for the runner up position. The latest entrant, Microsoft's (Nasdaq:MSFT) "Surface," was introduced last week with strong fanfare. But its time in the spotlight may be short-lived as Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) is expected to unveil their own tablet, the Nexus 7during this week's I/O developer's conference.
"For Google this is certainly a big opportunity," says David Garrity of GVA Research, adding that the tech behemoth may be better positioned to beat out Microsoft due to its history across software and hardware, especially after acquiring Motorola Mobility.
"Google I think could potentially have a product that does pose a threat. However, that said, Apple is still the name to beat in terms of the space," says Garrity. He points to Apple's unparalleled momentum and years of brand equity as primary reasons why Google and just about any other competitor will have trouble making significant dent in the tablet market.
As for Microsoft and the aforementioned Surface, Garrity suggests they may not even be competing for the same customers. He predicts the company's foray into hardware (Xbox not withstanding) will put the Surface more in line with Ultrabooks in terms of pricing rather than slightly cheaper tablets. Garrity says Microsoft won't "throw over a business model that has served them reasonably well for about the last 30 years to come out and transform wholly into an integrated provider of hardware and software." Rather, in his view the Surface is a product that will highlight the strengths of Windows 8 and what the platform is capable of.
With Apple, Google, and Microsoft leading the tablet pack, Garrity reminds us not to discount the old guards like Dell (Nasdaq:DELL) and Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ). He argues both have perfectly good reasons to enter the fray, but whether or not they do depends on Microsoft loyalty for Dell and whether Meg Whitman can, or even wants to, succeed in a market that her HP predecessors clearly avoided.