After following the newest buzz around the WePad, a tablet computer from german company Neofonie (see my article about it), I have some thoughts to share about why Neofonie still has to deliver the proof that their tablet can compete with the iPad.
1) Performance: The WeOS is not Android
The OS the WePad uses is not Android. It’s a customized Linux that should be capable to run Android applications (according to Neofonie). At the press conference they just showed a video running a Microsoft Windows (!) on their prototype device. So nobody has an idea how the performance of their WeOS on the hardware really is. Remember, they will use a Atom N450, that is a single-core 1,66Ghz processor with 512kb L2 cache.
I made tests with Android on an Acer Aspire One (Android-x86) that has a Atom N270 (single core, 1,6Ghz, 512kn L2 cache) and a fast SSD (a mod I made). If you compare these two CPU’s you’ll see that there’s not much difference in computing performance. Android runs quite fast on that Acer Aspire One, but the Ubuntu Netbook Remix that usually runs on it, is not very fast, I can use it for easy tasks, but it’s not a beast.
That makes me believe, that Neofonie might have to do a really big tuning job on their WeOS Linux if they want to create a fast and snappy device. Until now we don’t even know how much RAM they will add to their tablet.
2) Is there an Android Market on the WePad?
One of the big advantages of Android is the Android Market. Neofonie did not specify until now, if there will be full access to the more than 40’000 apps (according to androidlib.com) in that market. Yes, running AIR, Java and Android Apps is nice, but will it be the full package?
3) The price
The cheapest version with 16GB will be sold for 449 Euros, thats about 606$ for the version without 3G, GPS and Full HD. The version with these optional features and 32GB will be 569 Euros, about 767$. Remember the price of the iPads? The 16GB version with 3G and GPS will be 629$ and the 64GB version including 3G and GPS will be 829$.
Now thats not a big bargain. If the WePad is not snappy enough, nobody will pay the price of an iPad only to have Flash ability included (I am sure Apple also works on that problem).
You see, the WePad has not proven yet that it can handle these factors. Neofonie would be well advised to work hard on the performance of their OS and on full Android Market support if they want to have a real chance to compete with Apple. I will reconsider this as soon as they show us the real performance of their WePad.
Until now, they only had the luck to come at the right time with their announcment, shortly befor the big iPad impact. But from now on, only the hard facts will count…