This Week in Tablets: Google's Android tablet is the Nexus 7

Sometimes, technology journalists report with passion, and some just report.

The latter was the case in the US this past Wednesday at Google's I/O 2012 conference in downtown San Francisco when the company announced its mildly anticipated tablet, the Nexus 7.

You could hear the collective yawn from blocks away. Nothing particularly shiny or new here. A high-end, 7in tablet with a 1,280 x 800 pixel IPS panel. 1GB of system memory. Android 4.1 Jellybean. And so on.

The most striking feature was Nvidia's GeForce ultra-low power 12-core graphics processor, which sounds great until you try to get your head around how it will be utilised. Then it sounds, well, okay-ish.

Ultimately, these are speeds and feeds, not passion points. CNN summed up Google's announcement quite succinctly: "Google's Nexus 7 tablet is iPad-like in its high-end hardware, Kindle-like in its size and price, but still Google-like (lacking) in its content offerings.

To be fair to Google, no one expected or even hoped for anything more. This is the low-end tablet market we're talking about. It's like Internet search. It's not sexy, but low-end Android tablets are as essential to the ecosystem as the iPad.

For now, no one other operating system exists in this range. This is fairly consistent with Google's fairly populist themes. I know one thing for sure: We're not reaching 200 million tablet devices in consumers' and businesses' hands without Android.

Was the Nexus 7 even the point in the first place?

While neither many-core graphics processors nor blimps nor skydivers nor connected media devices could shine up the Nexus 7, Google did pull off the nerviest live demo I've ever seen, and I think the company did in fact accomplish its primary goal.

That goal was not generating oohs and aaahs for the Nexus 7. In dropping the Google Glass project onto the stage - a product that won't even exist until 2014 - the company showed technology evangelists something we had literally never seen before, thereby reinforcing the company's position as an innovator.

At the very least, Google clearly has the jump on just about every other company on the planet in the virtual goggles category.

(I admit that I originally wrote the above sentence with 100 per cent irony. I now admit that every time I re-read the above sentence, and then think about how many years of science fiction I've embraced with phones/phasers, tablets, and embedded heads-up displays, the less ridiculous it sounds. Take this as you will.)

It's nice to have a monolithic search engine business to fall back on, that's for sure. This is a good thing because, while I still believe Android tablets will sell in massive numbers, the Nexus 7 will not. Google will be fortunate if it sells 10 times the 6,000 tablets Google gave away to developers at I/O.

In the meantime, considerable scrutiny and speculation is swirling around Amazon's Kindle Fire, which may be announced this month in the US, bickering with Google notwithstanding.

This week's loser: Research in Motion

There's really no way around it. RIM's double-hit announcement that its crucial BlackBerry 10 release would be delayed until 2013, and that up to 5,000 layoffs might be pending will certainly spell the end of the company as we currently know it.

The runner-up for this week's loser was Adobe, which announced that it is abandoning Flash on the Android platform starting August 15. It's hard to believe, but it feels like Adobe's flagship mobile tech is rapidly heading the way of Shockwave.

This week's winner: Asus

The company was tapped to build out Google's Nexus 7 tablet. A huge honour, and consistent with Asus' previous reputation of building fine white-label products for electronics manufacturers. It's nice to see the company get some recognition.

On the horizon

Microsoft has a lot more questions to answer on the Surface tablet front, such as:

  • How much will it cost?
  • How much will it cost Microsoft to manufacture?
  • Will third-parties still release Windows 8 tablets of their own?
  • What's the pricing model of Office on Win8 tablets?

I'm expecting that, starting this coming week, we'll begin to see answers. In the meantime, one final thought on the Surface tablet and the continued concerns that Microsoft will pay for abandoning its partners: What other OS are PC manufacturers going to install onto their systems?

With speculation running wild that HP decided to kill its Windows RT tablet because of Microsoft's Surface announcement, it's hard to imagine the short-term impact of Microsoft going solo on Win8 tablets being anything but good. Let's face it: The company is going to sell double the Windows 8 tablets that all the PC manufacturers in the world could possibly have sold, combined, in 2012.

Originally published by: TabTimes.