10 months ago I wrote a piece for Laptop Magazine that grew intense scrutiny on Twitter and even in the comments over at Laptop. The piece was titled “The Elephant In The Room: Android Tablets Failing”. How could I, Thedroidguy even say such a thing… gosh!
10 months later I use a Toshiba Thrive 10 inch every single day and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 almost as much. Just about every member of my family has one kind of Android tablet or another, and yet as we are hours away from the iPad three launch, Android tablets are still failing.
Google and their manufacturer partners have so far been unsuccessful in replicating their phone strategy with tablets. The strategy, design them, build them, and push them out to the public, the end result should be more collective tablet sales sold than the iPad 3. With phones it was much easier.
More after the break
At the time I wrote the original story only the Motorola Xoom and the original Galaxy Tab were available. Motorola had admitted to not hitting their mark with the Xoom, while there was questions about Samsung’s initial result report based on shipping vs sell through.
With that in mind, I kept an open mind, especially considering the onslaught of Android tablets that were about to come out. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve seen some amazing hardware.
Take the Toshiba Thrive 10 for instance. I personally love the Thrive. It’s a productivity work horse. The design is durable. Unlike the iPad or any other tablet on the market, it has a full sized SD card reader, a full sized USB slot that can power a portable hard drive, a full sized HDMI port and a file manager that’s reminiscent of a desktop. It also is the ONLY top tier tablet made with a user replaceable battery. That’s big.
The downside to the Thrive is that in the rush to be competitive Toshiba has stripped away all those features that make the Thrive stand out in their subsequent tablets. Oh and did we mention they’ve released three more tablets since then, and it’s only been 10 months.
I was really hoping as we turned the corner into 2012 I could stop writing the words “10.1 inch, Android 3.0, 1ghz dual core Tegra 2 tablet”. That wasn’t the case. It seems every company has at least one tablet that fits that exact bill.
One of the parts of all this that hurts the most is that early reports suggest that when the iPad 3 or iPad HD releases later today, there will still be Android tablets that in spec alone beat the iPad 3.
The big problem with that is that Forrester Research, a very well respected research company published some alarming data yesterday. In their report they’ve said that not one single Android tablet manufacturer has more than 5 (possiby 6) percent of the tablet market, for which the iPad rules the roost.
Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch does point out that when Forrester began compiling this research the Kindle Fire and new Nook tablet weren’t on the market. However some analysts feel that those tablets shouldn’t even be in the Android mix because they run such customized versions of the operating system.
Tablets as a whole are definitely here to stay. Android tablets are here to stay as well. There are a few factors that would help the Android tablet market though. The first of them being pricing. When talking pricing with people many feel that Android needs to price their tablets more competitive with the iPad. That may not be the case at all.
The problem we’re finding with tablet pricing is that companies like Asus and Toshiba are pricing their tablets more expensive than some of their laptops. The tablet seems like a logical choice for a traveling business person, but with the weight, size and price of laptops coming down, consumers are thinking twice about which device to purchase.
We’ve tested over 40 Android tablets here at thedroidguy offices and not in one of them did the operating system run flawlessly. When we test something we’re not looking at it like the average enthusiast driven blog/tech site. Our base is our huge variety of over 100,000 Twitter followers so our reviewing guidelines take the run of the mill consumer into play.
In talking with a high level Geek Squad employee and a couple other contacts in the repair business we all seem to agree that an Android tablet or Android phone has just three force closes before the average consumer (not the enthusiast) takes the device back to the store. In some Android tablets we’d be back at the store in less than an hour.
Aside from that, until Samsung’s marketing for the Galaxy Note, marketing for Android tablets has either been nil or horrible. When have you seen a commercial for an Asus Transformer Prime? The Prime is one of the best tablets out there right now, but unless you read the tech sites regularly or venture into Game Stop a lot you probably don’t know it exists.
Now the takeaway here is that from a sales perspective and the overall market share perspective Android tablets are failing. 10 months later it’s still the elephant in the room. I’m in no way suggesting that the tablet suck or fail themselves. In fact with our multi-core processor architecture, unique and customizable operating system, removable storage, better displays and true multi-tasking, just to name a few, Android tablets dwarf the iPad. But for some reason, outside of our circles, no one seems to agree.