Nexus 7 and the android tablet ecosystem

February 1st, 2013

I received a Google Nexus 7 as my birthday present this year… Well not exactly birthday present since it was difficult to get a piece with all the hype and the Christmas season but I’ve had it for a couple of months now and I have some clear views about the device and the Android ecosystem.

Well as I was hoping to find a good deal on a Nexus 7 (I’m a strong believer in the nexus line of products — nexus one and galaxy nexus before this), I also thought I’d look around the other tablets in the market to see if any of them would be good enough to buy instead of the Google tab.

But you see, the market is broken into three clearly distinct types of tablets… First are the ultra cheap range from a variety of manufacturers with terrible specifications and often terrible build quality, and secondly you have Apple and finally Samsung.

There are of course a few tablets here and there from Asus and Sony but they just have something or the other not quite right with them or are too expensive. Because if you price something above 25k you’re encroaching on Apple territory and you must provide something clearly better than the iPad range! I’m an android fan and much prefer the experience to the iOS world but if I were paying a bomb for a tablet (or a phone — but we have better choices there) I’d be hard pressed to find a tablet as clearly competent as the iPad for an equivalent price. The nexus 10 comes close but it’s not easy to find and I’m not looking for a 10 inch tablet. In fact none of the big names (Samsung aside) make a 7inch tablet that could even be considered competent. Lenovo is offering a single core tablet at 17-18k. And micromax and spice and the rest? Well I’d be lying if I felt the build quality was passable let alone the guts inside.

The reason I don’t want an iPad is, as I said earlier, I don’t like the ecosystem. I am a geek and I want the ability to fiddle around to my hearts content on how my device works and the kind of stuff I can do with it. I could jailbreak the iPad but with every update Apple would be trying to lock it down again. And I don’t appreciate how Apple is patenting rounded rectangles and suing everyone who uses them!

And so we come to Samsung. The big gorilla in the Android camp. Samsung makes more varieties of Android phones and tablets than anyone else in the market at prices from as little as 6k to as much as 50k. The issues I have with Samsung tablets are both practical and philosophical. Samsung has shown time and again that they do not really care for the developers who try and use their devices. If you follow anyone developing CyanogenMod (the custom ROM) for Samsung devices, it’s a tail of woe. And practically, none of the tablets made by Samsung are all that great (for their price). The most direct comparison to the Nexus 7 is the Galaxy Tab 2 7. Yes it’s 2 and 7 — indicating that it’s the 7inch version of the second release of the Galaxy Tab. It’s priced equivalently

with the Nexus 7 and in fact it’s got a proper phone built in. My wife has one of these and is really happy with it. Me? Not so much, simply because the screen is terribly inferior compared to the Nexus 7 and the processor is really slow as well. If you go up the scale you can get the Galaxy Note 8 — an 8 inch phablet with stylus et al, but priced to match the iPad mini (so out of my budget). So as it turns out no love there either.

But the Nexus 7 isn’t really worthwhile in India either. Legally, the 16GB variant is being sold at nearly 20k which works out to over $375 which is nearly double the retail price elsewhere in the world. But thanks to eBay and equivalent services, you can get it at the right price + customs etc, which brings it close to 15k.

Apple has recently stepped up it’s game with huge advertising for it’s phones and tablets. But Google could easily outgun Apple in such a price conscious market as long as they enter it properly. Google books launched in India just recently, but we haven’t been able to legally buy a Nexus device in India since the Nexus S nearly three years ago.

All these cheap brand device manufacturers are undermining the credibility of the Android brand in India. All that Google needs to do is get their products out in the market at a valid price point and they’ll sell out.

(coming up later – the Nexus 7 – pros and cons)

Categories: personal, technology | Tags: , , , , ,

1 Comment

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