Microsoft has shown different versions of Windows 8 for smartphones, tablets and PCs, which it will begin shipping around Oct. 26. Apple delivered the iPhone 5 along with new software for all of its hardware form factors.
Lurking behind the scenes, however, is Google (GOOG), which I believe will unveil a bevy of products to compete very strongly against Microsoft and Apple. I believe these products are likely to be announced as early as October, and would be available in U.S. retail within approximately 30 days thereafter -- basically, by Thanksgiving.
These products based on Google software will fall into three categories: PCs (laptops and desktops), tablets and smartphones. Let me describe them in turn:
1. PCsSeveral PC brands that may be guarding themselves against a consumer and/or enterprise backlash against Windows 8 are likely to start producing Google PCs imminently. Samsung and Acer are already in production, but one can envision others joining this bandwagon. I view Lenovo, Asus and Dell (Dell) to be the most likely ones, but others are also possibilities, including Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Sony (SNE) and Toshiba, just to mention a few. Google offers the simplest possible PC software, especially compared to Microsoft and Apple. With a Google PC, I cannot see a scenario where you would ever be in need of tech support. Basically, it boots up much faster than an Apple iPad and it "just works." Google laptop and desktop prices are and will be competitive with Windows, which means they are much cheaper than Apple. However, you also have to consider that with a Google PC you don't have to buy any additional software or service/support plans. Your lifetime total cost of ownership, or TCO, will be a lot lower with a Google PC. So far, Google has not marketed its PCs very well. They only recently started appearing at Best Buy (BBY) and most consumers don't even know that a Google PC exists, let alone why they would be better than Microsoft/Windows and Apple/Mac. Starting this November, this is likely to change. Market share shifts typically take several years to become material, but I think it will start to become measurable in the months following these imminent launches.
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