The thing about being a geek is you pride yourself on knowing more about what you’re passionate about than anyone else. I love technology, I love gadgets, and I think I know more about them than most of the people I meet.
And then I met Walt Mossberg.
Walt Mossberg is easily one of the most influential voices in the technology world. He’s the Wall Street Journal’s personal technology correspondent, and the co-host of an annual conference that attracts the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg for candid interviews.
Needless to say, as big of a geek as I am, my knowledge pales in comparison to Mossberg’s.
So we turned the camera on Mossberg and asked him about the year ahead for the tech industry. And his answer was simple: It’s all about tablets.
After Kristie spoke to him, I pressed Mossberg on the tablet wars to come. I felt that the looming fight between the wave of Android tablets and the iPad had enough similarities that it might be the Mac versus Windows PCs all over again: Apple’s tightly controlled single device against a more open competitor delivering a range of devices in all shapes, sizes and prices.
Mossberg disagreed. He argued that the Mac was never part of an all-encompassing ecosystem like the iPad, and pointed out something that’s often forgotten: The Mac, even in the early years, never had anything like the marketshare the iPad currently enjoys.
He also reminded me that there is a third competitor: HP. The world’s biggest computer maker bought Palm last year and is reportedly about to release a tablet based on Palm’s WebOS. Mossberg says this puts HP in a very similar situation to Apple. Both are computer makers that have their own operating system. Only Apple and HP can build both the hardware and software, allowing for closer control of the overall ecosystem... and potentially, a hand in every revenue stream that flows through those devices.
Whether HP can emulate Apple's success, or whether Apple can sustain its lead, will be fascinating to watch.