Featured: Putting the Google into Android tablets

In 2012, Google shall be putting the Google into the Android tablet market. A recent press release from the IDC has Android slated to overtake iPads as the number one tablet by 2015. Thanks to the success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Android has 44.6% of the tablet market as of the end of Q4 2011. Now with Google’s spotlight fixated on tablets, Android shall surpass iPad sooner than later. Google is going to accomplish this feat for Android by completing three goals.

Ecosystem
Google is well underway with embracing their mobile ecosystem. They rebranded the Android Market, Google Books, Google Movies and Google Music all under one roof, Google Play. Previously it was hard for consumers to realize which ecosystem that they were buying into when they purchased an Android tablet. Andy Rubin, Android’s chief, recognized this failure stating “there’s no organized way for consumers to recognize it as a viable platform.” Google and Rubin plan to change that in 2012. The Play Store, formerly the Android Market does a fantastic job promoting all parts of the Google ecosystem now when launching the application.

Much of the success of the Kindle Fire was due to Amazon’s vast and powerful ecosystem filled with books, movies, and MP3’s. The Kindle Fire is oftentimes referred to a multimedia device because of this. Google rallying everything together under one branded name will help them align with what Amazon has accomplished with the Fire and bring Android more in line with what iOS users experience with iTunes. Part of Apple’s success isn’t just flashy screens and graphics, it’s their content system as well. Google is already underway with accomplishing this goal with the release of Google Play in March.

Hardware
Ten inch tablets are nice, but seven-inch tablets bring the price down just enough to be affordable by the masses. Consumers want affordable tablets. They want tablets that won’t break their wallets and don’t lack functionality. Once again the Kindle Fire proved this point by selling six million units in roughly the first six weeks it was available.

ASUS announced a seven-inch tablet at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, which ended up winning several awards. Since then, we haven’t heard much from ASUS regarding their show stealing tablet. Sources around the Internet state that Google was extremely impressed with their cost-effective tablet and approached ASUS about becoming the device manufacturer for Google’s own up and coming tablet.

The latest rumors put Google releasing a seven-inch “Nexus tablet” manufactured by ASUS sometime in June with production beginning sometime in April. Rumors state this tablet will run consumers a mere $149. To get a price point that low, Google may have changed ASUS’s original device plans from a quad-core Tegra 3 to another processor or they could be banking on Amazon’s method with the Kindle Fire which was to sell each device slightly under cost and make it up with their ecosystem. Either way, if these rumors turn out to be true, Google will have successfully completed this goal by making a high performance tablet truly affordable to the masses.

Marketing
One of Android’s great strengths at times has also proven to be one of its greatest weaknesses. Android is open. Android is susceptible to manufacturers and carriers to sell their devices however they please. Apple’s iPad’s do not suffer this same fate. Apple is in charge of marketing and in charge of sales. This is clearly working for Apple as they are holding 54.7% of the tablet market share. Take the Transformer Prime for instance, when is the last time you saw a commercial on television from ASUS touting their product? Google may be in charge of the Android operating system, but they are not in charge of marketing hardware running Android.

Back in January 2010, Google tried to do exactly this with the Nexus One smartphone. They were in charge of sales and marketing for the device. However, that project was short-lived being scrapped after selling 100,000 devices in three months. At the time, Android wasn’t a household name. Android had very little adoption and definitely did not control 48% of the market share as it does now nearly two years later.

Google has fine tuned their marketing skills over the years for Android while watching carriers and manufacturers fail at replicating smartphone success in the tablet market. With the massive success of the smartphone industry under its’ belt, according to the Wall Street Journal, Google plans to sell tablets directly themselves. Google is expected later this year to launch an online store and sell co-branded tablets from both ASUS and Samsung, whom have had great success on their own with previous devices. With Google directly tied to the sales and marketing for these co-branded devices, they surely will be flexing as much advertising muscle as possible and complete the last and final goal towards Android tablet domination.

Google has a long road ahead of them for Android to overcome Apple’s iPad, however they are drastically closing the gap as they continue to reinvent themselves throughout this year. With the rebranding and success of Google Play, they now have a consumer identifiable ecosystem. Putting Google behind the sales and marketing wheels for their co-branded “Nexus” tablet will allow them to drive Android tablets into mass consumption, especially when one tablet is rumored to be affordable by nearly everyone.

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