Apple's iPad has been the dominant force in the tablet
market ever since the original
model launched last year. That market dominance continued this year when
Apple released the iPad 2 -- it sold
over one million of the tablets within the first weekend.
However, things aren't going so smoothly when it comes to
Android-based tablets. The first Honeycomb tablet, the Motorola
Xoom, has been an absolute dud in the marketplace. According
to analysts, Motorola at best sold 120,000 Xoom tablets, and at worst, a
dismal 25,000 units.
NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, whose company produces the Tegra
SOC that powers the Xoom and other Honeycomb tablets, recently vented his own
frustrations about the
current state of the [Android] tablet market to CNET News. "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 explained.
The number one problem according to Huang is that manufacturers
are simply pricing their Honeycomb tablets too high. The Motorola Xoom in its
most basic configuration (32GB, Wi-Fi) costs $599. This compares to $499 for a
base iPad 2 (16GB, Wi-Fi) and a relatively bargain basement $399 for the ASUS
Eee Pad Transformer (16GB, Wi-Fi). However, those looking to actually find
a Transformer in stock need to wait in line just
like all of the potential
iPad 2 customers.
“Tablets should have a Wi-Fi configuration and be more
affordable. And those are the ones that were selling more rapidly than the 3G
and fully configured ones," Huang added.
Huang also pointed to a lack of Honeycomb-specific apps for
the latest round of tablets. This problem puts them at a distinct disadvantage
compared to the iPad/iPad 2, which has a vast library of tablet-optimized apps.
Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha echoed that sentiment, stating,
"Consumers want more apps for Android tablets."
"But those problems are all getting solved. The rate at
which these Honeycomb Tegra 2 tablets are being improved is really
stunning," Huang continued. "I think all of the manufacturers have
now recognized that and readjusted their plans."
Things will hopefully get even better for Android-based
tablets when Google standardizes its smartphone/tablet development with Ice
Cream Sandwich. And although current Honeycomb tablets are certainly not
lacking when it comes to hardware, there's largely a problem with OS
optimization/performance that can drag on the user experience.
Android-based tablets should get another shot in the arm
this fall when NVIDIA launches its quad-core
Kal-El ARM processor for tablets.
Kal-El will have five times the
performance of Tegra 2 while using less power. And while more power is always
welcome, we also hope that Google will work with its hardware partners to
further optimize the Android codebase to help eliminate the performance hiccups
that are prevalent in Honeycomb.
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