Photo: Photo Illustration By Steve Kovach
Google is on a roll with Android right now.First, it just released the Galaxy Nexus, which runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the biggest leap forward for the OS so far.
Then, Google’s Android boss Andy Rubin announced that more than 700,000 Android devices are being activated every day.
Finally, chairman Eric Schmidt dropped a major hint to an Italian newspaper this week, saying Google has plans to market “a tablet of the highest quality” within the next six months.
It’s the last of those that gets me really excited, assuming it’s true. (Schmidt does have a habit of saying things without thinking first, so it’s very possible he was misquoted. I reached out to Google and a rep would not offer further comment on Schmidt’s statement.)
Still, with Google’s Galaxy Nexus home run this month, it’s only logical that the company would want to bring the Nexus program to tablets too. After all, one of the biggest reasons Apple’s iOS-based devices are better is because the company designs its own hardware and OS from the ground up. Google doesn’t have that advantage with all but three Android devices right now: the Nexus One, Nexus S, and Galaxy Nexus. And those are just phones.
A Nexus tablet running Ice Cream Sandwich and designed by Google itself is exactly what the company needs to prove Android is a viable OS for both tablets and smartphones. There’s no question people are already buying Android phones like crazy. Despite its flaws, Android is a success on smartphones. But so far, tablets have been a dud.
In the meantime, the only Android-based tablet out there that seems to be putting a dent in the iPad’s dominance is the Kindle Fire. And the Fire doesn’t even run true Android. Rather, Amazon completely skinned its own OS on top of Android while blocking out many of Google’s own services, including the official Android Market.
It’s downright embarrassing for Google that the most popular Android tablet right now is locked into Amazon’s ecosystem for apps, movies, music, and books.
But Schmidt’s comments got me thinking. A Nexus tablet could very well happen next year. His six-month time frame almost lines up with Google’s big I/O conference in June, which is where we’ll hear all the latest stuff the company has planned for Android.
Now do I think a Nexus tablet will be a must-have blockbuster right away? No. Neither was the Nexus One though. But over the last three years Nexus phones have been gaining momentum and setting the standard for other Android devices for the year to follow. The Galaxy Nexus is the best one yet. People are finally paying attention to Google as a hardware company, and that will only get better once the Motorola acquisition goes through.
There’s no reason Google couldn’t and shouldn’t do the same with a tablet.
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