Let’s face it, Amazon’s implementation of Android has to be a sore point for Google. The most popular Android tablet ever, the Kindle Fire, is completely cut off from everything Google has developed to try to integrate and monetize the OS. Is it any surprise that they would want to come out with something in the same size and price range that would blow the Kindle tablet option out of the water? Unfortunately for them, this first attempt at entering the tablet market is going somewhat less smoothly than Amazon’s.
Sources originally reported that a 7” Google tablet costing as little as $150 would be available sometime this May. Running Android 4.0 and powered by NVidea’s Tegra 3 quad-core processor, it was clearly an attempt to show off what a “pure” Android tablet was capable of in this price range. Sadly, we now have news indicating that the design being collaborated on by Google and Asus is running $249 per unit. The inability to keep costs down has brought along a delay until June and may force the elimination of some of the advantages the device was supposed to offer.
Prices on tablets are falling across the board. The iPad remains prohibitively expensive for many, but with an option like the $199 Kindle Fire there is still hope. Amazon did an impressive job of putting out dirt cheap hardware with the hope of making money on the resulting media sales and sales tracking indicates that they have been successful. Anybody hoping to compete with Amazon in the 7” tablet market will have to at least match the price they are offering and even then bring something impressive to the table.
While the obvious way to bring down costs would be to step down from the expensive Tegra 3 processer, Google is apparently trying to avoid that. This makes sense if they are trying to bring something out that really demonstrates the potential of the Android iteration (5.0 Jelly Bean) due out this June. They have to be forward-thinking and prepare to compete against anticipated Windows 8 tablets as well as the Kindle Fire, so cutting corners on performance would not work well.
Does Google have a chance of beating out Amazon? I would say no. The strength of the Kindle Fire isn’t in its power or in its benchmark ratings. Google Play is a step in the right direction, but aside from the App selection (which remains insufficiently moderated at the moment despite recent improvements and any other advantages it may offer) it can’t compare to what Amazon’s store integration brings to the table.
We can hope that this delay turns out to be more of a shift in focus than a fumbling attempt to get back on track with the original plan. An Android 5.0 tablet meant to compete against Windows 8 tablets by offering a superior price and experience would make sense and do a lot to secure the future of the OS if implemented well. An overpriced Kindle Fire competitor aimed at a noticeably different segment of the tablet customer pool than the Kindle would just be disappointing.