The Android Tablet Ecosystem Is In Need of Major Changes

by Sam Dean - May. 20, 2011Comments (0)

While many news reports continue to tout Android tablets as directly competitive with Apple's iPad in terms of demand, several analysts and technologists are confirming that they are not competitive, and citing strong reasons why they are not. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang is the latest high-profile commentator on the issue, and there are even revisions appearing on some of the early reports of strong sales for some of the best-known Android tablets. What needs to change?

Speaking to CNet News, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said:

"Consumers want more apps for Android tablets...It's a point of sales problem. It's an expertise at retail problem. It's a marketing problem to consumers. It is a price point problem."

Huang made very clear that he thinks Android tablets have to come in at lower price points, emphasizing Wi-Fi over 3G for connections. Meanwhile, there are also strong concerns being voiced over the marketing of Android tablets, or rather, the lack of any unified marketing for them.

That hasn't stopped powerful new players from entering the Android tablet space, though. Dell has announced plans for an Android tablet, among several other hardware makers. 

The key point here, which we've made before, is that Android tablets will need an application ecosystem that can compete with the one for the iPad and iPhone. With the iPad, Apple leveraged excellent product design and the very healthy App Store ecosystem of applications to succeed with a new hardware platform. People forget that applications define the success of most hardware platforms. They did with the iPhone, and they did with the personal computer. Applications will define competition for tablets too. 

It's no accident that Nvidia's Huang points to a dearth of custom applications as the number one problem with Android tablets. And, unfortunately, the hardware makers lining up behind Android have little control over the delivery of compelling new applications. 

Displaysearch analyst Richard Sim has a good analysis of some other advantages that Apple currently commands:

"We continue to believe that Apple has a distinct advantage when it comes to distributing iPads, and this is likely to continue to be the case going forward. Apple is not only better able to explain its product to consumers through dedicated sales people, but it also captures more margin than competitors who have to share margin with retail partners. This makes it tougher for rivals to compete on price and awareness, which is especially important as we move into a new era of computing where the traditional lines of definition and differentiation are blurring."

For now, there is no reason to expect any of this to change. Android tablets need perfectly competitive applications when compared to what's available for the iPad, there needs to be unified marketing of them, and they need to come in at signifcantly lower prices than the iPad. Those are tall orders.



Shailesh Patel uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


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