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Fuzzy Ship Dates and Info Plaguing Android Tablet Market Excitement



As I’ve watched the Tablet/Slate coverage from IFA several interesting trends are starting to come into focus regarding the Tablet/Slate Tsunami. The big names out of this show so far are obviously Samsung, Toshiba, and Viewsonic. Archos is also making an impact. However, when reading the likes of jkkmobile, CarryPad, SlashGear, Engadget, Laptop, and others I’m seeing the following trends that were already apparent start to solidify. Unfortunately they tamper any enthusiasm that the excellent coverage of big announcements might convey.

1. Release dates for the US market are still fuzzy at best, and hidden behind incomprehensible PR speak at best. In some cases reporting indicates that some models won’t even make it to the US. (The Toshiba Folio). On one hand this shouldn’t come as a surprise, on the other, those hoping for some US Android Tablet/Slate goodness this fall should take it as a slap in the face. Blame that on the carriers and the US subsidization model. It’s easier in Europe and Asia for these devices to hook up with carriers and get to market. Best bet here in the US. Think 2011 and beyond, unless you’re a hard core early adopter and use one of the import sites to make a purchase. Unless you’re thinking Archos. Bottom line, we’re into September. 2010 is moving fast and there isn’t much left of it, especially if you haven’t gotten your manufacturing line set up ready to pull the trigger.

2. In a few reports I’m seeing this line start to emerge. “Android isn’t ready for Tablets yet.” That’s usually quickly followed with, “but that will come.” And indeed it will. But as I’ve said here many times before, there’s a lot of catch up that needs to happen before we see this all blossom the way most think it will. Or maybe I should say the way most hope it will.

3. Google Certification. Some have it. Some don’t. What’s the difference? For one the Android Marketplace. Why is that important? Well, since all Tablet/Slate devices are very personal devices and have the potential to be what you want them to be, depending on what apps you need and want, having access to the Android Marketplace gives you the most flexibility for the future. While there will certainly be enough hacking in the future to make just about anything possible on these devices having the Android Marketplace and the Google suite of Apps is going to push future development for this class of devices. You’d think Toshiba would know this, but apparently not.

4. Info on Android upgrade paths is tougher to discern in most cases than release dates and markets. In most cases, users are going to be able to order these devices (except in the US) and get their hands on them right about the time news on the next flavor(s) of Android become big news. For some that won’t matter, as long as the devices do what they are promised to. But, since Android is an ever evolving OS, my view is that part of the attraction is being able to move on up with the next version. Some Samsung rep already seemed to cut  the legs out from under its first release promising more Tablets in early 2011 with Android 3.5 codenamed Honeycomb. Realizing that sellers rely on some confusion in the market place to help move units with new ones coming in the pipeline, is it any wonder Apple loves to play the secrecy game?

I’m sure we’ll hear more, and then hear more again. I’m anxious to read the roundup coverage from the Boys of Europe later this week and listen to their thoughts on podcasts. They’ve been on the front lines and done a good job bringing us lots of info. But from my view on the sidelines, I think the only thing we got clarified from IFA is that there is no clarification to be had. Yet.



  1. Steve S

    09/04/2010 at 12:08 pm

    It’s not just “fuzzy” dates, it’s completely noncommittal introduction dates combined with hypothetical product features and product mock-ups that the OEMs won’t commit to. It’s an almost completely vaporware market…

  2. dstrauss

    09/05/2010 at 1:20 pm

    It’s almost as if they “don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.” Or it could be that Android really isn’t “pad ready” as it stands. It’s a lot more than just making the screen bigger and the apps larger.

    • grwisher

      09/07/2010 at 8:35 am

      Perhaps there is another reason that the Android tablet movement seems so fragmented – namely that Google believes that the Chrome tablet, not the Android tablet is the way of the future. Just this morning this quote came from Reuters:

      “Schmidt also said Google would announce partnerships later this year with makers of tablet computers that would use Google’s Chrome operating system, due to be launched soon, rather than its Android phone software, which has been used for mobile devices until now.”

      In addition, on June 3rd, this exchange between Steve Balmer and Ray Ozzie occurred:
      “Speaking of those other devices, Ballmer said he doesn’t understand why Google has both Chrome and Android. (Chrome began as an operating system for netbooks while Android targeted phones, but Google has plans for both to spread, so you could have Android netbooks and Chrome or Android tablets.) Microsoft is always struggling to bring more coherence to its operating systems, Ballmer pointed out, so why is Google starting out incoherent?
      Luckily, Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie was on hand to answer Ballmer’s question: “Android is a bet on the past. Chrome is a bet on the future.” Android is still about installing applications on a specific device. Chrome OS is designed for a future where everything is online, in the cloud.”

      Besides Google’s belief that Chrome is the real future for tablets, the cost factor may also be a real motivator. Apple has really nailed the price points and the competition seems to be struggling to compete on price. Apple uses many of the same components in four iOS devices and with 120 million already sold, the R&D cost per unit is already very low.

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