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Google changes gears with branded products

Google Inc. (GOOG) has reigned supreme over the smartphone market in unit sales, even as it has struggled with profitability and 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 highly analogous to Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTapproach with the Surface products -- offering a compelling array of branded options, while continuing to offer OEMs opportunity to produce their own branded product by offering licensing opportunities.

Last Monday, 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:

Nexus 4

OEM partner: LG Electronics (KSC:066570)

Screen: 4.7-inch True HD IPS PLUS (1280x768 pixels)
CPU: 1.5 GHz quad-core SnapDragon 4 by Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM)
GPU: Adreno 320
RAM: 2 GB
Storage: 8/16 GB (no microSD!)
Battery: 2,100 mAh
Cameras: 8MP, AF, LED flash (rear); 1.3MP (front): 
Connectivity: HSPA+ (no LTE), 802.11 b/g/n
Extras: NFC, wireless charging, BlueTooth 4.0 
OS: Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean v2)

Nexus 7
OEM partner: ASUSTek Computer Inc. (TPE:2357)

Screen: 7-inch Asus TruVivid (1280x800 pixels)
CPU: 1.3 GHz quad-core Tegra 3 by NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA)
GPU: 416 MHz 12-core GeForce ULP (NVIDIA)
RAM: 1 GB DDR3L
Storage: 16 GB ($199) or 32 GB ($249) (no microSD!)
Battery: 4,325 mAh
Cameras: 1.2MP (front): 
Connectivity: HSPA+ (no LTE) for +$50, 802.11 b/g/n, BlueTooth 3.0 
Extras: NFC
OS: Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean v1), upgrade to 4.2 this month

Nexus 10
OEM partner: Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930)

Screen: 10.1-inch PLS-backlit display (2560x1600 pixels)
CPU: 1.7 GHz dual-core Cortex-A15
GPU: Mali T-604 (ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM)
RAM: 2 GB LPDDR3
Storage: 16 GB ($399) or 32 GB ($499) (no microSD!)
Battery: 9,000 mAh
Cameras: 5MP, AF, flash (rear)/1.9MP (front): 
Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n, BlueTooth 3.0 
Extras: NFC
OS: 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 with 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
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 other Google brass 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."

Nexus family

After a frustrating stall in the tablet market, Google, much like Microsoft, is finally seeing fresh life.  Not content to take a second-seat to Apple, Inc. (AAPL) and second-place Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), 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.

Sources: The NYT, Google



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RE: Big Mistake
By BugblatterIII on 11/5/2012 10:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed; and it's arguably an even bigger omission on the Nexus 4 as phones are typically taken out-and-about a lot more than tablets.

I've been toying with the idea of setting my S3 up as a DLNA server or something similar; perhaps the tablet could play the content from it over wi-fi direct. Not good for the battery life though.

Google needs to rethink expandable storage. I wouldn't mind if they prevented me installing apps on it; I only want to use it for media anyway.


RE: Big Mistake
By Ammohunt on 11/5/2012 11:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
Before you do that google the MK802 II.


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