Google Nexus 7 and its impact on tablets

During the annual Google IO conference in late June, Google announced the upcoming release of the Nexus 7 tablet. This 7 inch media consumption device was going to be the flagship tablet for the Android platform. Just like the nexus line of phones such as the Galaxy Nexus, Google has produced a tablet that is the paragon of what an Android Tablet should be. With reviews coming in as the first shipment got sent out in mid-July it seems that Google has lived up to its promise and our expectations. But what does this mean for other Android tablet manufacturers and competitors?

The Nexus 7 is running the latest in hardware and with Android 4.1 Jellybean, it’s the first in being able to run the newest Android version complete with the magical Google Now. With graphical performance upgrades through ‘Project Butter’ and great hardware, the reviews are all in happy consensus with great ratings all around. Google Now which is essentially a service that can track patterns in your activities and give you relevant information when it thinks its important. Notwithstanding the privacy concerns, the fact that it can pop up information about traffic conditions on the route from home to work 30 minutes before one’s usual departure time automatically is a great step forward in personalized butler technology. Although there were some issues with malfunctioning products and the fact that the demand for the bigger 16GB model far exceeded production, the Nexus 7 is an obvious success.

So what does this mean for other Android tablet makers? Samsung which has become the name with the Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Note and a bunch of other Galaxy line machines finally has real competition. Ignoring the minor brands and companies that produce low grade Android tablets the only other competitor one could say is the Asus transformer. But before the Nexus 7, no one was proudly touting an Android tablet, people got their own and most of the time they were merely content. With the $200 price point Google is almost selling the tablet at cost and the gamble is paying off. The bar has been set and it’s up to other manufacturers to keep themselves relevant and in the market. Although no real word is out on how they are going to respond and the future looks rough.

The main contender however is the Kindle Fire. Amazon’s own 7 inch Android based tablet that, although running its flavor of Android, is mostly Amazon’s own creation. Both tablets are marketed as media consumption but although the Kindle Fire has access to Amazon’s marketplace and massive library of books and products, the Nexus 7 has access to the latest and greatest in Google’s tech. With both tablets near the same price, many people are going to choose the Nexus 7 because of the name and what it can do.

Now we have to talk about the elephant in the tablet market, the iPad. Still as successful as ever it doesn’t look like the Nexus 7 can take its place as the lead tablet seller. However that is not Google’s goal. The iPad is slowly but surely shifting its focus to content creation but the Nexus 7 is half the price and created for consumption. Comparing it would be like comparing apples and oranges. They are meant for different things and although they occupy tangential arenas the fact is the Nexus 7 is meant for a much different consumer.

So finally the Android tablet gets the shot of adrenaline it needed to prevent its previously inevitable collapse into obscurity by the iPad and the announced Microsoft Surface. And because its purpose is consumption that means it can potentially dominate the niche of tablets instead of competing for content creation or as a ultrabook laptop replacement. With humongous sales it doesn’t look like any other Android tablet manufacturers can even come close. And since Google is selling it at cost, it serves the dual purpose of getting huge market penetration and forcing the other companies to rethink their strategy. So unless Samsung and the like can produce something just as strong and good at what it does then it looks like Google can start really producing the hardware its ‘free’ software so desperately needs.