On walkabout in life and technology

On the Nexus 7

Yesterday, Google announced the Nexus 7, their first hardware and software combination tablet.

In short, and in my opinion, they have created the reference platform for Android tablet development. Pair that with the Galaxy Nexus phone and you have the best Android pair since the iPhone/iPad duo, for development.

But until I need to develop for Android, I’m not going to buy one. I already have an iPad and an iPhone.

Several of my takeaways from the announcement:

  • The new Jelly Bean Android 4.1 looks great, is very powerful and has many excellent features, it’s the best Android yet.
  • It’s integration into the Google ecosystem is well done and complete. They are the only ones who can and do compete with Apple and iCloud (who knows if the Microsoft Surface even works, right!)
  • The size and weight are admirable, the number of built-in sensors make it akin to a Star Trek tri-corder, but the bezel is too big.
  • The price point is perfect, the same as a Kindle Fire.
  • You can buy it without a carrier contract, all other Android tablets have been hobbled with this requirement except the Kindle. I think this in itself has limited the potential of all other Android tablets, and makes the Nexus far more attractive.
  • But, like the Kindle Fire that it targets, it’s all about getting the owner of the tablet to spend more money at Google. Cheap razor, expensive blades! Almost everything you do on the Nexus requires access to the Google Play store. To me, the biggest issue with the Kindle Fire is that ‘lock-in’ to Amazon’s stores and the fact that it’s designed to consume Amazon product, not create your own. One could argue that the iPad is the same with Apple’s iTunes store, but the difference is that Apple does not nag or force you to use its store, nor is the iPad designed for pure consumption of Apple’s products. The iPad is a multi-purpose tablet, the Nexus and the Fire are consumption tablets.
  • They did not put in a rear-facing camera, a good thing because anyone who uses an iPad as a camera is an idiot.
  • Their solution to laggy scrolling and heavy background use is to go massively multi-core, an inelegant brute force approach that kills battery life. Apple’s solution that relies on native coding and limited background use is more restrictive, but more elegant and far better on battery.
  • The Nexus Q, their Apple TV competitor is a $299.00 version of the $99.00 Apple product and it does nothing more or better. And then there is the expensive cables and speakers. No good.

All in all, I do expect this product to do very well, and certainly squeeze the Kindle Fire out of the game. This may be the first non-iPad I see on the subway. But it’s no threat to the iPad, it’s not even in the same competitive space.

I also wonder how they are making any profit on this.