Google Nexus 7 Tablet Aims For Amazon, Not Apple - InformationWeek

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Mobile // Mobile Devices
03:37 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Google Nexus 7 Tablet Aims For Amazon, Not Apple

Google's new Nexus 7 tablet, announced at Google I/O, doesn't try to be an iPad killer. Instead, it aims to supplant Amazon's Kindle as a media consumption device.

Google Wednesday announced the Nexus 7, a new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean tablet that doesn't strive to be the best tablet in the market. Rather than target market champ Apple and its iPad, the low price and content store tie-ins make the Nexus 7 a Kindle killer.

The specs of the device were more or less leaked in their entirety ahead of its debut at Google I/O in San Francisco on Wednesday. It has a 7-inch display with 1280 x 800 resolution, making it an ideal HD video player. It is powered by a quad-core Tegra 3 processor. But Google surprised attendees of during the introduction by revealing that it also has 12 graphic processing cores. This makes the Nexus 7, in effect, a 16-core device, which Google says makes it a killer gaming machine.

It has Wi-Fi, but no 3G; it has a user-facing, 1.3-megapixel camera, but no heavy duty shooter for actual photography; it has 8 GB or 16 GB of storage, but that can't be expanded with microSD cards. It includes HDMI out for passing video to a television, as well as a standard headphone jack and USB port.

The device will be the first to ship with the new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, and will also be the first to include Google's Chrome browser out of the box. The two models will cost $199 and $249 for the 8-GB and 16-GB versions, respectively.

[ The tech giants are fighting for turf and market share. Read Apple's War Against Google: Time For New Tactics. ]

Though the device may be somewhat ho-hum in the specs department (and, to be honest, in its overall design, too), the hardware isn't the real story with the Nexus 7. Not at all.

The big story is the Google Play Store.

Google has revitalized the Google Play store with more content and other goodies. First, the Play Store has added the ability to buy movies and television programs. (Previously, video content could only be rented.) The new capability means that consumers have yet another option when it comes to buying digital goods. Movies, individual television episodes, and complete seasons are available at prices that are inline with other online contents.

The Google Play Store also now supports magazine purchases and subscriptions. Users can buy individual issues or subscribe to monthly delivery of digital mags.

These changes, when added to the existing availability of music and app content from the Google Play Store, put Google in more direct competition with Amazon's own content offerings and the Kindle Fire--Amazon's $199 book-, music-, and video-consuming tablet.

The good news here is that Google knows what it is up against. It has a handle on the fact that the Nexus 7 isn't an iPad killer. Instead, it is meant to serve as a cheap hardware platform from which Android fans can purchase Google's digital goods.

Can the Nexus 7 be a contender?

It has potential, no doubt. The price will certainly help it compete against the Kindle Fire, but Google's content store still needs to show some growth. Reports have suggested that Google isn't happy with the uptake of its music store, which cost Google a lot of money to license from the music labels. Its selection of tracks, albums, and movies pales next to what Amazon and Apple offer. The store is reasonably well-designed, but before today lacked key features (video purchasing).

As long as the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean interface isn't a disaster to use on the small-ish tablet, the Nexus 7 could put a dent in e-reader sales this holiday season.

It goes on sale in July, and can be ordered directly from the Google Play Store.

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User Rank: Apprentice
6/29/2012 | 8:33:32 PM
re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Aims For Amazon, Not Apple
Although Eric is nominally right, he is fundamentally wrong.

The Nexus 7 is a head-to-head competitor with the Kindle Fire. In that sense, he is right. However, Amazon isn't fundamentally in the tablet business. The Kindle Fire is simply a vehicle to increase purchases of Kindle books and AppStore apps. It is not fundamentally a profit center for Amazon -- in fact it is quite likely a loss leader.

Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire under the "Gillette Principle" -- that is give the "razor" away free (or at a substantial discount) and make money off the sale of the "razor blades".

The Nexus 7 is competition with the Kindle Fire -- the razor itself. While the Nexus 7 will increase the sale for Google's own razor blades, it is also 100% compatible with Amazon's razor blades.

In other words, consumers may freely buy apps and media from both the Google and Amazon. This will (in addition to the better specs of the Nexus 7) increase the number of tablets out there, and will, as a result, increase total sales. As a result, Amazon could easily find itself selling more media and apps as a result of Nexus 7; it could even get out of the tablet market itself, and move those resources to their real profit center.

So what does Google get out of this? Well, it will increase it's revenue from media and apps, but it will also create a much larger market for tablet-specific apps.

This is where Google is aiming at Apple from. In review after review, the one clear advantage reviewers point out Apple has over Android in tablets is the number of tablet-optimized apps. The Nexus 7 is the key to equalizing this advantage. It will also drive other Amazon and other "low end" tablet manufacturers to move quickly to Jelly Bean, or into other markets (which is simplified the by introduction of the new Accessory Development Kits), rather than continue to build tablets based on earlier Android versions. This leaves them with motivation to move tablet support forward while reducing the incentive to fragment Android going forward. New accessories and new apps -- both designed for Jelly Bean-based tablets, will in turn encourage other high end tablet manufacturers to minimize fragmentation so as to take advantage of the growing Jelly Bean/tablet ecosystem.

It is a bold and brilliant move by Google, and may solve fragmentation and "app gap" problems Google has in competing with Apple, and without resorting to heavy-handed limitations on the Android software, hardware, or consumer communities.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/29/2012 | 5:46:22 PM
re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Aims For Amazon, Not Apple
"Google Nexus 7 Tablet Aims For Amazon, Not Apple
Agreed. So please don't fall into the trap of making any significant comparison with iPad. What I will say is that this device may considerable make buyers think about whether they need a more expensive iPad, Surface RT, or Android tablet. It may very well drive down the prices that those companies can charge for their devices.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/28/2012 | 2:39:33 AM
re: Google Nexus 7 Tablet Aims For Amazon, Not Apple
Honestly, it really could be an iPad killer if it wanted, it really is an awesome tablet....+, it's a fraction of what the iPad actually costs!!
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