The iPad owns the tablet space, there’s no contest. It hasn’t quite become the generic term for one, but if you mention the Apple device, people know exactly what kind of computer you’re talking about. The Kindle Fire had a huge promotional wave behind it and a much cheaper price point, but interest fell off just as the holidays did. Now that Google is introducing some genuinely fantastic hardware (by Asus) with their latest and greatest version of Android onboard, we may finally see some diversity in the market before Microsoft lands with their tablets later this year. But will Google’s proprietary approach to distribution hinder the tablet in the long run? Will anyone care about Google’s attempt to fit Android to a tablet effectively with Jelly Bean?
The big problem is that Google wants to do everything their way. It makes sense on several levels that they’d want to cut out the retailer as much as they can. Google’s not making anything on these tablets and giving an extra $10-$20 away to tablets just for some face time isn’t ideal. Their Nexus phones are known more for being Google’s state-of-the-art devices than big sellers. As terrific as the Nexus 7 is, It may have little point to exist other than to show other OEMs how to model their new hardware since Android tablets have been extremely disappointing in the face of Apple’s single high-quality model per year. While the aforementioned Fire has done well on the Kindle name and Amazon’s services, it’s also a forked version of Android that’s largely incompatible with Google’s primary Android line, for Amazon’s own purposes.
So even if the Nexus 7 were built for success, will Google let it? Hard to say at this point, but selling it exclusively through the Play store simply isn’t going to cut it.