The rapidly evolving fields of mobile hardware, operating systems and apps is shaking up the list of prominent consumer technology suppliers. In the past, we heard a lot about the PC makers - Dell, HP, etc. - as well as cell phone companies including Motorola, RIM and Palm. These companies are becoming "niche players" - supplying PCs and cell phones - while Google and Apple are battling it out for the hearts and minds of the public.
In the following chart I've listed four companies and indicated the products they offer. Microsoft, Google and Apple have a broad range of offerings and will be competing across the field. I've included Amazon because of its huge content offering as well as its leadership position in the eBook field.
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While I was preparing this chart several significant announcements were made - Microsoft decided not to release it's Courier tablet. HP did the same with its Slate tablet. At the same time HP announced it would purchase beleaguered Palm - once considered the leading smartphone company. This could mean HP will switch to the Palm WebOS for its tablets instead of Windows - a major change for two big players.
It is likely that many products will be merged into other categories - mp3 players and GPS systems will be included in smart phones, for example. Nevertheless, it is instructive to compare the offerings each player currently has and try to predict the ultimate winners of this fascinating contest.