Google Talks Nexus Strategy Amid Nexus 4, Nexus 10 Launch
November 5, 2012 10:43 AM
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Google changes gears with branded products
Google Inc. (
over the smartphone market in
, even as it has
struggled with profitability
intellectual property concerns
But the taste of success in the mobile space has left Google hungry. Amid mostly
weak tablet efforts by OEMs
, Google has opted for a bold strategy that is
to Microsoft Corp.'s (
-- offering a compelling array of branded options, while continuing to offer OEMs opportunity to produce their own branded product by offering licensing opportunities.
the Nexus family grew
into a product trio -- a phone (4-inches), a mid-size tablet (7-inches), and a full-size tablet (10-inches).
I. The Product
Here's a quick recap of the changes/new stuff:
OEM partner: LG Electronics (
4.7-inch True HD IPS PLUS (1280x768 pixels)
1.5 GHz quad-core SnapDragon 4 by Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM)
: Adreno 320
8/16 GB (
8MP, AF, LED flash (rear); 1.3MP (front):
: HSPA+ (no LTE), 802.11 b/g/n
NFC, wireless charging, BlueTooth 4.0
Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean v2)
OEM partner: ASUSTek Computer Inc. (
7-inch Asus TruVivid (1280x800 pixels)
1.3 GHz quad-core Tegra 3 by NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA)
: 416 MHz 12-core GeForce ULP (NVIDIA)
1 GB DDR3L
16 GB ($199) or 32 GB ($249) (
: HSPA+ (no LTE) for +$50, 802.11 b/g/n, BlueTooth 3.0
Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean v1), upgrade to 4.2 this month
OEM partner: Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
10.1-inch PLS-backlit display (2560x1600 pixels)
1.7 GHz dual-core Cortex-A15
: Mali T-604 (ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM)
2 GB LPDDR3
16 GB ($399) or 32 GB ($499) (
5MP, AF, flash (rear)/1.9MP (front):
: 802.11 b/g/n, BlueTooth 3.0
Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean v2)
II. The Strategy
One week later, Google's John Lagerling, director of business development for Android, participated in a
special Q&A session
The New York Times
discussing the motivation for the expanded Nexus push.
He emphasizes the need for Android to get more aggressive in tablet pricing, calling the Nexus 7/10 price points "pretty revolutionary." Pricing was a key driver of Android smartphone adoption, and higher prices on Android tablets have been a key adoption deterrent, so this makes sense.
John Lagerling, Android business director [Image Source: Pocket]
He comments, "We did really well with the Nexus 7, I feel, because nobody really pushed the envelope with seven-inch in terms of price and performance. It really proved that category. We felt the 10-inch category was overpriced and underpowered, and we wanted to see what we could do for that from our perspective."
When it comes to subsidiary Motorola, he somewhat contradicts the
past commentary of
who said the acquisition wasn't just about patents, by commenting, "The way I understand it is, it’s mostly about the patents."
Asked about why Motorola was not included in this round of the Nexus lineup, he says that they have the chance to bid on each product just like the other Android partners without a featured product. When it comes to choosing OEMs he says the variety is "not so much fairness as it is to sort of work with partners who happen to be in good “phase match” with us in what we’re trying to do."
After a frustrating stall in the tablet market, Google, much like Microsoft, is finally seeing fresh life. Not content to take a second-seat
, Inc. (
, Inc. (
), Google is finally offering hot products at alluring prices.
Mr. Lagerling summarizes, "I'll admit we’re finally much more closer to our actual vision in the past year than we have ever been."
One key issue not touched upon in the discussion is a glaring weakness of the Android market when it comes to super-HD tablets like the Nexus 10 -- a
lack of super-HD-resolution apps
(Apple's own selection of "Retina" iPad apps, while far from the lower resolution selection, is industry leading). Apps, of course, follow a
Field of Dreams
"if you build it, they will come" sort of trend, but for early adopters a smaller catalog may create headaches for Nexus 10 owners.
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RE: Great summation
11/5/2012 9:47:31 PM
There is such a discrepancy between phone and tablet screen sizes that this doesn't really work. There is a massive difference in UI optimization and layout between the two. Something like Alien Blue, Reeder, iPhoto, or Photoshop have completely different layouts depending on whether you're on a phone or on a tablet.
Developers are already hard pressed to match the quality of their Android apps to what they release on iOS. Polishing the tablet layout with multiple panes, etc, really isn't worth it for them.
What would help is if there was a better mandate from the top in terms of optimizing UIs for tablet. Instead Rubin is pushing for a strategy that has so far failed.
Instead you're going to end up with good Android tablet hardware like what Google is showing, but with no apps. If all someone wants to do is web browse (on 16:9, ugh) then I guess that's ok, but
tablets are app machines
. Without apps made for tablets then they will continue to sell only in the low end.
With developers targeting apps instead of half-assing it with upscaled (and already inferior) phone versions the Nexus tablets could be so much more.
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