Google takes on Apple

Google's Nexus One phone and Apple's (alleged) iSlate tablet are merely the beginning of a long battle for world domination. May the more innovative company win

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Meanwhile, rumors swirl that Apple is planning something involving a black turtleneck and "one more thing" on Jan. 26. Then again, maybe the company is finally bringing the Beatles to iTunes. Or maybe Steve Jobs will announce he's had the rest of his internal organs replaced with cybernetic equivalents. Still, a lot of Apple fanboys are hoping their dreams of an Apple Tablet will finally bear fruit.

The most interesting part of all of this -- again if those persistent Web rumors are to be believed -- is that Google plans to offer an unlocked, unsubsidized version of the Nexus One (or whatever it's called) to consumers. In other words, Google may be entering the consumer hardware biz, thus competing directly with Apple.

In other words, forget Microsoft, Yahoo, or MicroHoo. The battle for world domination will boil down to Apple vs. Google -- with a few minor players like Amazon in there to raise the ante.

Oh they won't be alone. Like a wildebeest at a watering hole, Microsoft will eventually stick its nose in the air, catch a whiff of what Apple and Google are doing, and strong-arm its hardware partners into producing their own Windows Live Tablets -- two years late and burdened by a slow, complex-yet-condescending interface. Sony will quietly release a product that does almost everything people want, price it too high, market it poorly, and totally fail. A few minor players will jump in, and eventually tablets will become a commodity like everything else eventually does.

The real innovation, though, will come from a no-holds-barred catfight between the Googlers of Mountain View and the Appletons of Cupertino. That ought to be fun to watch.

Will all this really come to pass? We'll know in just a few weeks. Probably.

If you could buy a Web tablet from Apple, Google, or Microsoft, which would you choose? Post your reasons below or e-mail me:

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