Just when it looked like the year would pass without a viable iPad competitor emerging, Amazon.com in late September unveiled the Kindle Fire, a $200 tablet lacking some of the iPad's features, but including access to Amazon's huge inventory of movies, TV shows and e-books.
By early December, data showed the Kindle Fire grabbing 14% of global tablet shipments in the fourth quarter, vaulting past Samsung (5%) to trail only the iPad at 66%.
And in November, Barnes & Noble came out with its Nook Tablet, which, based on early sales, could move into the No. 3 slot by as early as the first quarter of next year.
Next year should see a lot of competition in the the space between the $199 Kindle Fire and the $499 iPad. There's not much future in challenging the iPad at its price point without having a superior product, as RIM and HP found out. And you can't make money selling low-priced tablets for nothing or at a loss, as HP ended up doing with its TouchPad.
As for the PlayBook, it's as dead as the TouchPad, but RIM executives either can't accept it or won't admit it. However, reality is catching up, so don't be surprised if by March the company announces a blow-out $99 PlayBook sales extravanza.
Top 11 tech stories of 2011 links