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3/30/2012
09:47 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?

Google plans to sell Android-based tablets directly to consumers in a bid to increase adoption of its mobile platform.

Remember the spectacular failure that was Google's Android smartphone store? Apparently Google doesn't, because it is going to resurrect the idea, but this time with tablets instead of Nexus smartphones. It almost seems as if Google is trying to crash and burn with this plan.

Citing sources familiar with Google's plans, The Wall Street Journal reports that Google wants to win tablet market share from Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle, and to do that it will sell devices that are co-branded with its hardware manufacturer. Rather than sell just one Google-branded tablet from a single OEM, the search giant will offer several devices from a range of manufacturers. The Journal lists Motorola (which Google is in the process of acquiring), Samsung, and Asus as possible hardware partners, noting that the companies would be responsible for designing the tablet. Asus, apparently, is on deck to offer the first tablet and will likely have an exclusive spot as the lone device available for a short time.

Part of the impetus behind this project is that Google thinks the current model for selling Android tablets is broken. Android smartphones may be selling like hotcakes thanks to the U.S. carrier subsidization model, but similar efforts to sell Android tablets have fallen flat.

I agree with Google's viewpoint here. Buying a tablet at a subsidized cost with a two-year contract makes no sense at all. Consumers are much better off spending the extra $100 - $200 to buy the tablet outright and choose a month-to-month data plan if they need one. The problem, however, is that Android tablets often cost as much as, if not more than, Apple's successful iPad.

[ Do you bring your own mobile device to work or use a company-issued one? Read the debate at BYOD Policy Or Buy Everyone An iPhone? ]

The Journal's sources suggested that Google may somehow subsidize the cost of tablets, perhaps through on-device advertising, as Amazon does with some of its Kindle products. Google may also back up its online tablet store with a massive marketing campaign to raise awareness, including television spots, web-based ads, and promotions on the Google Play Store.

Beyond that, details about Google's tablet plans are hazy at best. Google is expected to unveil the next version of Android later this year. Android 5.0--Jelly Bean--could arrive as early as Google's developer conference in late June, but it is more likely to show up in the fourth quarter. Aside from semi-regular application updates, Google has been silent on its future Android plans.

The company is likely saving its big news for I/O, which is a hot event in the developer space. Tickets for I/O--priced at $900 a pop--recently sold out in less than 30 minutes. You'd think Google I/O was a rock concert, not a developer conference.

Whatever Google's plans are, it clearly needs to be more aggressive and (hopefully) successful than it was with the Nexus smartphone store. Android tablets are gaining some traction against the iPad, but not quickly enough.

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EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2012 | 1:05:36 PM
re: Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?
One other thought. One of Google's biggest complaints (at least from those who seem to love the alternatives) is that Google is not getting updates out to the masses fast enough. To those people I say, having it's own controlled tablet will give Google the vehicle to have at least one device that can be controlled. If Android fans want a very controlled and defined environment (possibly businesses as well as non-technical users) it will be able to drive that upgrade cycle and meet demand. If you ask, will it Crash and Burn, it seems as though you might be starting out with a bias and wanting Google to not succeed using Apple;s model of control.
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2012 | 12:58:28 PM
re: Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?
I also have the A500. My only current complaint is that it cannot connect to Ad-Hoc Wifi wireless networks with the standard Android Honeycomb OS from Acer. I could easily root it and make it do that, but I am waiting to see what Android 4.X (due to be release sometime this month) looks like and brings to the table. Then I will decide if it is time to root the device to gain the functionality that I want. I purchase the Acer A500 from Target last summer for $299 ($399 with a 100 Target gift card) so I feel I got a very good deal on a device that is going to get ICS soon. It runs Flash and allows me to access a variety of Flash related content that an iPad would not necessarily be able to access (or I have to download Apps to do). I am not an iPad basher, but I am also not prepared to say that iPad is right for everyone. To those who feel the need to continually compare Apple and Android devices I say Android is doing well, leave Apple to define it's own success.
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2012 | 12:51:53 PM
re: Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?
"When a manufacture attempts to compete directly against the iPad, they flop"
If you believe that to be true, then you must have also believed Apple to be "a flop" in the PC world for all of those years (Macs held such a tiny portion of the Personal Computer market for such as long time that they were basically an embarassment if you are talking purely numbers).
In my opinion, there is plenty of other room in the market for those companies who chose to not be "Apple". Some may do better than others, but to say that others are flops takes things a bit too far. Let's say they are "less successful" and leave it at that !
herman_munster
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herman_munster,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/3/2012 | 8:27:46 PM
re: Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?
"The problem, however, is that Android tablets often cost as much as, if not more than, Apple's successful iPad."

I paid $320 for my Acer a500 Android tablet when it came out. There was no data plan involved. It was a direct purchase from a major retailer. I'm pretty sure that's a lot less than an iPad. I know there are some Android tablets out there that are pretty expensive however, the majority of them are pretty inexpensive.
MyW0r1d
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MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Strategist
4/2/2012 | 9:21:47 PM
re: Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?
OK so before I start only one brief moment -- ah geez, more advertising, as if another pop up (not always new) everytime I open a different article on the local newspaper's site isn't enough to slow life on your high speed connection to a crawl.

That said, mhamm980's comments seem vaguely familiar to those in the phone sector as Android was coming to the market. Where are their devices now? It could be a competitor and will like you say probably grow and Apple will probably maintain it's fashion statement, premier status and price tag.
mhamm980
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mhamm980,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/2/2012 | 5:33:55 PM
re: Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?
All I can say is that I do have an android device (Acer A500). While it does not have the exact same applications available to it as most iPads, it definitely has more features that I use than most iPads and at a MUCH lower cost. My device has expandable memory (which none of the iPads do), a full USB connector and front & rear cameras.
I have to give it up to Apple for their consistency in the iOS across multiple devices. Also there is the HUGE amount of applications available for that OS. It does make Apple a strong competitor.
I do feel Android use will grow more than Apple but will probably never overtake it.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
4/2/2012 | 3:57:33 PM
re: Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?
You two guys are real dweebs. Sure, there are plenty of junk Android tablets, and they're cheap. They have to be, no one wants them. When a manufacture attempts to compete directly against the iPad, they flop.

Look at the Asus Transformer Prime. This has been a very heavily touted Android model. Supposedly, another iPad killer, as have others been. But thanks to Asus being sued by Hasbro over the name, we've gotten some interesting information about sales that we never see from these other tablet manufacturers, as Apple is the only one who says how many they sell.

So, supposedly, the Prime was going to be so popular that Asus set up a Pre sales program as Apple has to do. That way, people could guarantee getting a tablet quickly as the run on the retailers who first got them ended in out of stock conditions, as happens with Apple's products.

So, how did they do? Well, they pre sold a whole 2,000 tablets. Yup, that's right, not a typo, a whole 2,000 tablets. Not exactly a rush. And how many did retailers around the world order for the quarter? 80,000. Again, that's 80,000.

The problem is that few people want an Android tablet. And when that tablet competes directly against the iPad in features, price and power, it's a flop. The article has it right, despite what Fandoids want to believe, full price Android tablets are a dud, and only cheap, poor quality ones seem to have any chance at all, and they aren't doing too well either. We can see by Samsung's recent comments about them doing "poorly" in tablet sales.

Google must do something to fix this problem. Can they? It's a good question. They now have had over two years to try, and so far they haven't.
gafisher
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gafisher,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/30/2012 | 4:10:16 PM
re: Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?
"The problem, however, is that Android tablets often cost as much as, if not more than, Apple's successful iPad."

"Often?" The biggest competitor costs less than half as much, and most others run from less than 20% of the iPad's retail price to about 20% less than Apple's tablet.
drw89
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drw89,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/30/2012 | 3:45:21 PM
re: Will Google-Branded Tablet Crash And Burn?
Are you a complete moron? Firstly, making the wild claim that Google's idea will go down in flames then not backing it up at all is just dumb. Secondly, lets remember that android was in its relatively early stages. Lets also remember that they were trying to sell phones at full price when carriers were subsidizing theirs. I'm pretty sure Google isn't making a mistake here being that they're going to be subsidizing the tablets... Where else can you get a quad core tablet for 200 dollars? Certainly not Apple. Being that mobile operating systems are nearing about as fast as they can get and new features are less and less discoverable, Google has about one choice if it wants to start taking market share in the mobile os arena and that is price leadership. That's what Google is doing, and honestly, a tablet that is going to be roughly as good (debate on and on) for 300 dollars cheaper... yeah I'd take that as a new tablet buyer. They're not going to be winning over any apple fans, just like apple isn't winning any android fans over, but as far as new customers go... price leadership is the way to go.
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