With the release of the iPad WiFi+3G today, the Apple tablet juggernaut continues to roll on... and over its competitors, apparently. Microsoft finally admitted it's been working on a tablet - the Courier device that's been talked about for months - only to announce that it'll never see the light of day. At the same time, information has emerged that Hewlett-Packard is killing the HP Slate in its cradle.
The courier was first revealed by Gizmodo last year
. Instead of being tablet-shaped, the Courier had a "booklet" form factor, with two high-res touchscreens connected by a hinge. Rather than just a multitouch interface, the Courier incorporated a stylus to allow handwriting and drawing on the tablet as well. Later leaks included the news that the device would be based on the same operating system as the Zune HD
. The device was buried deep in Microsoft's skunkworks, though, and no official confirmation was ever made of the project. Until yesterday, that is: Microsoft announced, and killed, Project Courier in a single press release. According to Frank Shaw, Microsoft's VP of corporate communications, Courier "technologies will be evaluated for use in future Microsoft offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.
At almost exactly the same moment, TechCrunch reported on news out of Palo Alto
that Hewlett-Packard was killing its own tablet project. The HP Slate was much more high-profile than the Courier, even being featured by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
at this year's CES show. Reportedly, the Slate was powered by a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor with 1GB of DDR2 RAM, had a 8.9" screen with 1024 by 600 pixels and capable of 1080p HD videos, and a USB 2.0 port and SD card reader. According to this report, HP is focusing on WebOS development after its acquisition of Palm this week.
The departure of the two tech heavyweights from the field leaves Apple in a dominant position, with no one but Google - whose Android-based tablet is expected later this year - likely to be able to mount a serious challenge. Fusion Garage continues to market their JooJoo tablet (expanding internationally, and with a 3G model promised
within three months) but is a much smaller competitor.