If you’re wondering why Android is the key to a successful iPad rival, you only have to look back at Apple’s previous game changing device, the iPhone.

When the iPhone launched it lacked many features that we would have expected from a high end phone, but that didn’t stop it becoming a huge success and gaining unprecedented critical acclaim. What made the iPhone so special was the user interface and it wasn’t until Google launched its Android platform that viable alternatives to the iPhone started to appear.

OK, so it took a little while for truly excellent Android handsets to arrive, but today you’re spoilt for choice, with devices like the HTC Legend and HTC Desire trumping the iPhone on many levels. Put simply, Android now provides a user experience that’s every bit as good as Apple can muster.

It’s also worth remembering that Android is now a mature platform, so it will be far easier for hardware manufacturers to bring polished devices to market in a timely fashion. This means that the iPad is unlikely to enjoy the significant head start that the iPhone got.

Google also seems to understand the cloud better than Apple, with Android devices designed to operate completely over the air, with no need for a traditional wired connection to a PC. And while Apple expects its customers to pay for its Mobile Me cloud service, anyone who uses Google for their email, calendar and contacts will have full access to those services via an Android device for free.

Despite the fact that only six months ago, no one really cared about tablet devices, today it seems like consumers would happily trample each other if an iPad was waiting for them at the end of a queue. I hope the same goes for Android tablets, once they become as mainstream as the iPad.

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