Tablets, the new shiny toys everyone wants to buy, have been considered to be a completely new form factor after the revolutionary launch of the Apple iPad. I came across this article of a superb concept tablet called the Fujitsu LifeBook 2013, a tablet/phone/camera that can morph into a fully functional laptop. I was completely mind blown by this hardware concept, but what might it run? Android. This made me wonder about Android’s tablet computing future. Will it be a significant player or not?
Android is synonymous with open source. It provides the hardware manufacturers a whole variety of hardware options, and easy driver programming, to dish out whatever they want. It’s a geek’s dream, really. But there had to be a standard on which manufacturers can iterate on. Google saw that, and made some strict guidelines for Honeycomb, the first tablet version of Android, so that the tablet market doesn’t get affected by the fragmentation in hardware that has plagued the Android Smartphone market. Did it help? In a way yes, it did. But did it bring more developers? No.
Some simple reasons why Android never took off in the tablet space are that Honeycomb was crap and had literally no good tablet apps at launch or even now, while the iPad has more than 50,000 tablet supported apps and counting.
While Google may have tried its level best to make a big splash, Honeycomb eventually became a dud and Apple iPad’s roaring success still overshadowed any other Android based tablet that launched afterwards. Enter Kindle Fire. Amazon’s brainchild, running a forked Android OS, made some successful inroads to the tablet market thanks to the amazing service integration and insanely aggressive pricing, pegging the tablet at just $199. The HP Touchpad might have been an utter failure, but it taught Amazon how to price a tablet right. The app situation has been partially solved on the Fire, with its own app store and support of mobile version of Android apps to a reasonable amount.
The Kindle Fire is really a special device. It is a complete service bundle from Amazon and promises to be a superb consumption device for all of Amazon’s services. Win, I say! That’s what people want. The iPad is *the* consumption device with Apple’s superior services and quality apps that demand a premium, while Kindle Fire is the aptly priced, *get what you pay for* kind of device with Amazon’s successful services.
So, what does Google need to do? How can it compete with the *I am a smaller and smarter PC* paradigm based Windows 8 platform when it gets released?
If Android stays this way, Windows 8 will just steamroll it out of the market while the Kindle Fire will still sell just fine.
Google needs to:
- Get devs to make more tablet specific apps.
- Partner with hardware manufacturers for a nexus tablet.
- Roll out some new services that make the tablet experience enjoyable.
- And finally, fix the crap that is the software.
If everything else fails, Google should just make some kick ass Fujitsu Lifebook 2013 kind of devices that a niche customer buys, with a huge premium.
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