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Google finally took off the wraps of the oft-rumored Nexus tablet, and it looks like they have a strong competitor to add to the tablet market. The unveiling didn’t have the same shock and awe Microsoft garnered with their Surface tablet – mainly since the Nexus tablet was anticipated well in advance, and it didn’t offer any revolutionary changes – but it was generally well received. However, does the Nexus 7 offer enough appeal to shift some of Apple’s dominating share of the tablet space in Android’s direction?

Despite the popularity of the Android OS, their foray into the tablet world hasn’t matched the same success they’ve had with smartphones. The two biggest obstacles holding back the Android ecosystem from making the leap have been the dearth of tablet-specific apps and a media library as robust as Amazon or iTunes. Google Play has brought all these elements together under one platform, but now it’s up to Google to beef up their catalog and to continue to urge developers to design their apps with tablets in mind.

The Google Nexus 7 has all the makings of a winner: a 1280 x 800-pixel display, NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad-Core CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a price tag that can’t be beat. Sure, it has some shortcomings too – most notably the lack of expandable storage – but it’s a premium device with a near entry-level price to boot. By creating their own branded tablet, Google puts pressure on their partners to produce better and cheaper devices much like they did with their Nexus smartphone.

From the look of things, Google is aiming to take on Amazon’s Kindle Fire and not the king of the tablet world, the Apple iPad. They’ve seen the success of the Kindle Fire, and it appears that the Nexus 7 is being offered mainly as a vehicle to deliver digital content much like the Fire. While the Kindle Fire is built on the Android platform, it’s a tightly controlled ecosystem that is dominated by Amazon’s own branding.

Speaking with All Things D, Google’s Andy Rubin said, “When it gets sold through the Play store, there’s no margin. It just basically gets (sold) through.” Google will essentially be selling the Nexus 7 tablet at cost and eating whatever marketing costs are associated with the device. It’s a risky move, but if consumers use the device as intended, Google will reap profits through the sales of digital content like TV shows, movies, music, eBooks, and more.

With Amazon purportedly prepping two new tablets – both a seven-inch and 10-inch version – the Nexus 7 should see some competition right out of the gate with their respective release dates expected to be close to one another. However, unless Amazon is packing some serious hardware to compete against the Nexus 7 with an equally friendly price to match, they may have a hard time matching the same sort of success they had with the original Kindle Fire. This now opens up a window for Google to assert itself into a much stronger position with their own brand.

This is a pivotal time for Google and the future of Android on the tablet market. Getting the jump on Windows 8 and the new iteration of iOS should give them a nice boost, and the pressure is now on Google’s partners to step up their game on the tablet front. There will probably be more competitively priced tablets with beefier specs hitting retail stores in the coming months, and Google should start to eat deeper into Apple’s share of the market as a result.

So what are your thoughts? Will the Nexus 7 set off a renewed interest in Android tablets and have the same impact their Nexus smartphone had on Android-powered smartphones? Or will we be seeing more of the same and possibly even a decline with Windows 8 and the new iOS on the horizon?

2 COMMENTS

  1. Guess it all depends on why people buy a tablet. I am looking forward to the Surface RT to; read mail, Twitter & Facebook, browse the web and maybe reply to post (as I am doing right now), read news and view accompanying videos, and maybe watch some Netflix. Oh, and also open most any attachment I receive with an email, be it Office, media, PDF, whatever. And maybe be able to print a document to my networked printer.

    If the Nexus Tablet can do all that seamlessly, then that’s a start. Although the 7″ screen size could never work for me. I can do most of the above on my phone, and obviously all of it on my desktop. I need something to span the gap between my 4″ and 24″ screen. A 10.6″ screen will do that rather well.

    There are always going to be people shopping for bargains and gift giving that will buy the cheapest tablet on the shelf. And while most will get activated (vs. returned), a good number will find their way to a nearby drawer once the novelty has worn off. It’s all about tools and toys. Where does the Nexus Tablet fit in?

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