Count And/Or Trollmaster Extraordinary strikes again!!!
It would be charitable (that is, untrue) to call the consumer electronics strategies of Microsoft and Google coherent today. But what they lack in coherence they make up for in er, … sheer recklessness. That's OK, then. Both stalwarts are now in head-on competition with their customers, having launched their own-brand tablets …
" Is there something I'm missing here?"
Comparing the surface and the nexus is ridiculous, one is a sub-£200 budget tablet which is clearly targeting the market of people who don't want to pay the apple premium (and this market does exist, as evinced by solid Kindle Fire sales in the US). The surface on the other hand is going to be 'utrabook prices' ie £1000 and up.
A lot of the articles in El Reg, especially in the hardware section, seem to assume infinite budgets when comparing products. In reality however, many people don't have money for an iPad but might be able to stretch to £160 for a nexus, and might be persuaded to buy a big name brand (asus/google) where they wouldn't want to risk a cheap and cheerful 'no name' chinese jobbie.
What the author is missing is that his opinion is entirely anecdotal. He didn't like it. One dude doesn't like the product. big deal. What about all of the people that don't have a tablet that going to buy one. For them there is no switching cost. I am really looking forward to the x86 Surface so I can get all the Win8 touchy goodness and still run visual studio.
"Both stalwarts are now in head-on competition with their customers, having launched their own-brand tablets, rather than the software for other people to make tablets."
Google's been doing this for years, I think their "customers" knew what to expect in the tablet space based on what happened in the mobile space... the only difference is they're selling it at-cost to try and give android a foothold in the tablet market. You also failed to note that it is one of their "customers" that is making it.. if it was a big deal, asus wouldn't have made it.. it's even got their logo on there.
As for surface, I think MS have done something fairly decent with it (if not a tad expensive).
"Amazingly, Google is actually competing with itself, as Google's new $12bn Motorola devices division wasn't involved in designing its new Nexus 7 tablet."
Again, not really that crazy, since they've only just bought motorola. Plus it only took them (asus) 4 months to spec/build the Nexus 7 when Google asked them to build a decent low end tablet at cost for the nexus brand.
"And if Google's own employees at Moto think they've had a kick in the teeth"
Which I assume they won't... since it's in their interest to get decent android products out to customers. If android was failing, google wouldn't have bought motorola in the first place. It also stopped them going under before google even begun sniffing around them, motorola was failing badly until they adopted android.
"imagine waking up as a Samsung planner today. You've bet big on Android and helped it become a huge platform - and Google rewards you with with a tablet that it sells at cost price."
They bet big on android because their software previously sucked (I know this from experience). Using android would have been cost effective... it's not because they were helping google out of the goodness of their heart like the picture you're painting, only to be stabbed in the back. I
"And each time, after 20 minutes, I've put it back in the box confident I'll never want to touch it again. Pricing issues seem irrelevant if they can't persuade me to use one for free."
The point is, you didn't go out and buy it to fill a need. Most people buying tablets will be filling some sort of need. Be that as a web browsing device, commuting device, ebook reader, media consumption, gaming platform. Which brings me to my next point...
"Without stuff to do, Tablets remain as the forgotten niche of computing - the Kindle and the iPad being the exception because of their close relationships with the content production sectors. And without content, neither Microsoft nor Google have much of a story."
Total bollocks. You can buy most music via a whole load of download apps on android and windows (amazon being one of them), just as easily as iOS. You can buy books via the kindle, kobo, sony, and a million other apps. Hell, they even have the same book/page whisper sync you get with the kindle. Netflix and Lovefilm have apps too. I don't see how Microsofts/Googles relationship with content providers is a problem when they have 3rd party applications for syncing this content for them.
"Microsoft has Xbox games. But neither YouTube nor Xbox access make a tablet indispensable. And "access to stuff" is simpler and easier on a Kindle or iPad than on either Surface or the Nexus 7."
Explain to me why access to stuff is simpler and easier on a kindle or iPad. It seems crazy to me that you even wrote that. The Nexus 7 isn't even out, but it'll sync books as well as a kindle... music/videos/pictures on my android phone syncs just as easily as my iPhone used to, if not a little better, because it'll sync down from the device too from 3rd party sellers in the app stores. Also, if I've plugged it into another PC, it won't wipe the device. The surface hasn't even been released yet, you've go no way of saying how easy that is to access anything either.
"Of the two losers, Microsoft's Surface looks a slightly cannier bet, because it's really a laptop - and you can still use it as a laptop replacement. Is there something I'm missing here?"
Again, both aren't even released yet - and you've already branded them both losers. I'm actually shocked at how poorly thought out and biased this non-article is, even for you this one is a bad one. :(
I got one of those lovely HP tablets in the firesale and it was worth every penny. I have no actual "use" for it and having owned it for over 12 months I have not been able to find one, however... I wouldn't be without it.
I can throw it in a bag and hardly notice it's there. I can take photos to show my nan so that she can see them, I can look up random stuff on google while I'm watching TV and I can read emails on a screen bigger than my phone.
All in all it's a great thing to have, even if it doesn't really have a use. So the only purchasing factor with tablet for me is price (and battery life if you were thinking of a shenzenpad). I'd throw £150 at a tablet for fun (and did) but I wouldn't throw £300 becuase it's got no use.
I'd love to know if anyone has found an actual use for a tablet. I mean something that you can't do on the phone or laptop that you already own.
I read books on mine, so I don't have to carry around lumping great paperbacks.
Also do my time recording in the office, which I export to excel sheets for my timesheets.
but aside from that and email and music and the occasional game and portable browsing (on a decent sized screen), and google navigation and a notepad that syncs with my pc and phone and tablet and dropbox sync for important data files and mangler or mumble to chat to mates across the world and netflix and bbc iplayer and ..... nah that's it, you are right, its good for nothing I should throw it in the bin immediately!!
I was originally in the same spot as you 18 months ago, wondered what use a tablet would be.
Now I use an iPad (Mk1) and a Kindle Fire (rooted, ICS) daily. The iPad mainly for the web (what doesnt work is minimal) & the odd simple spreadsheet. The kindle is great for email handling (ok ICS crashes once in a while but I knew that when I reinstalled the machine).
The phone is android as well (gingerbread) so out & about email is on it as well but it's surprising what you endup using them for.
The downside is the odd weird look I get on the train when using all three at the same time.
And why exactly is 'access to stuff' easier on an iPad? There is nothing, NOTHING, an iPad does that can't be done just as easy or as enjoyable on a decent android tab (I'm sure that applies to a win 8 tablet too but I haven't tried one yet)
I'm sick of the fanaticism and devotion that the media put on Cupertino's products. Yes, they're decent enough, but so are countless other devices. Show some balance please.
You say that, but I have had a bunch of tablets of all kinds, from very expensive to dirt cheap, running Android, various flavors of Windows, Meego, WebOS & whatever-RIM-calls-its-OS-today.
Of those, the only one that came close to the iPad was the TouchPad. Everything else, I just wound up setting aside. I even tried using an Asus Transformer (with keyboard) as my main portable computing device, but gave up after a few weeks.
Apple set the benchmark very, very high and no one has come close yet. For most people, their hardware & software feels like a pair of comfortable shoes, where as Android is just --- badly finished.
Don't get me wrong, the iPad is basically a device for consuming content, a modern version of a TV. Most other tablets are aiming for at least some productivity, maybe trying to do many things is why they don't work as well.
"a decent android tab"
There's the problem. there are no decent android tablets that an average person can use and so hardly anyone is making Good tablet apps exclusively for Android tablets. On the other hand there are tonnes of Good iPad exclusive apps. That's a huge advantage for the iPad.
Except that whole OS update thing. To a lot of people an "android update" means a new device. Apple is popular as its the most "fool safe" because it can reliably be operated idiots, children, chimpanzees..... if you are a vertebrate you can probably use it happily and reasonably safely. Android still needs to work on "fool factor"
I'd imagine Samsung were well ready for the strategy, seeing as they have had the last two Nexus phones - its not as if Google or even Moto is making the tablet - its an Asus.
I've been pondering a tablet for a while...this might be the one that pushes me over the edge as I like the whole Nexus concept.
If *you* can't see the point of a tablet, then fine, no-one is forcing you to use one.
Friends and family of mine have iPads, and use them for consumption and creation.
We have a cheap Android tablet, which gets used extensively for games, and video, and occasional web browsing (when I can pry it from my son's hands).
Based on what I've read so far, I'm looking forward to getting one of these.
Obviously, all that is independent of the other half of the piece, ie software makers moving into hardware.
Give a f***! Just got myself a nice portable 7" tablet for the commute, that will likely be supported to the ends of the earth by XDA Developer community as it's a Nexus device. I like my One X for music, but I'd still prefer something a bit bigger for browsing. Plus, I'm getting into Android dev, so another cheap device for testing purposes is useful. MS has a much harder sell than Google.
Google have partnered with htc and Samsung in the past for their previous Nexus devices, so I don't think Samsung will be losing too much sleep.
This sounds like standard stratergy for Google, they make a reference design and a few weeks later Samsung, htc, LG et al come out with something that is even better. It allows Google to set the baseline for how an Android device should look / react. It seems to have spurred their telephone market on to produce some great equipment.
Maybe they have been disappointed with their partners efforts until now in the tablet arena and want to give them a kick in the rear and hope their get their arses in gear.
I think Microsoft are in the same boat, they've been trying for years to get tablets accepted and their partners haven't done a good job of it so far, so they are taking a leaf out of Intel's, AMD's, nVidia's and Google's book and are making a reference device for the tablet market.
I don't see you writing that Gigabyte, MSI, Asus, Asrock etc. have been kicked in the teeth every time Intel releases a new reference motherboard design to show off their new chipsets... The same goes for AMD and nVidia in the graphics market, they show off a reference card and their partners then go on to make the really stonking versions...
So what you're saying is that Google and Microsoft will never be able to catch up with the iPad and therefore should just let Apple have free reign in the tablet market?
You say that the reason the Kindle and iPad are successful is because of their content market - a point I agree with. But content does not grow on trees - device first, then the content grows. Expecting a device to launch an iPad-equivalent amount of content available is foolishness.
"So what you're saying is that Google and Microsoft will never be able to catch up with the iPad and therefore should just let Apple have free reign in the tablet market?"
I don't think AO is saying that Apple should have free reign. He is just saying that surface and nexus 7 don't pose a threat.
"You say that the reason the Kindle and iPad are successful is because of their content market - a point I agree with. But content does not grow on trees - device first, then the content grows. Expecting a device to launch an iPad-equivalent amount of content available is foolishness."
What content exclusively requires a Kindle or an iPad?
"So what you're saying is that Google and Microsoft will never be able to catch up with the iPad and therefore should just let Apple have free reign in the tablet market?"
To add a variant on Adam Nealis arguments, I don't think it is being suggested that they shouldn't bother - rather that they need to come up with a compelling proposition. Leave out Google and MS for a moment, and look at the many Android tablets in the market place as a similar example. If they did what an iPad did, as well and notably cheaper, then that's a good proposition. But what most of them actually offer is to be a little bit cheaper when all is considered, and to do things almost as well as an iPad, and that's not a very proposition.
So I tend to agree with the article that Surface is not going on to great things immediately, but maybe you're right that it is overly pessimistic. What MS is moving towards is the day when your mobile "phone" is your main data processing device, using the phone screen when you're out and about, possibly non-wired keyboard and screen for laptop levels of productivity, and using a big f*** off screen at your main place of work (perhaps even your TV screen at home). Surface gives MS an option against the demise of the existing PC (both laptop and desktop). For niche applications, sure, there will long be a need for customisable personal computers, but at the current rate of progress in mobile technologies the PC will be forgotten by the masses inside a decade. Intel know this, which is why they're desparately trying to break into the mobile phone market; Maybe they will, maybe they won't. ARM are the sort of company who are well positioned here, and of course MS are looking to port their wares onto ARM, albeit rather clumsily from what I read. And MS sniffing around the near death phone makers starts to look a lot more relevant (although I wonder if this means WP8 is a another stop gap to last a couple of years...)
All the elements of this are slowly coming together - for example DLNA link ups between phones, TV's and other devices. At present DLNA, Bluetooth et al are generally too slow and clunky for my liking, but I can still wirelessly display photos taken on my phone via my 40 inch telly, and I think that's a good start. Why can't I run a productivity suite on my phone, display it on the telly and use a wireless keyboard?
Much of the Reg commentariat have lambasted both Win8 and Surface (and I don't like the look of them either), but on reflection these two are the most striking things MS have done for a long while. They aren't looking for short term market share, they aren't expecting to make money, they are hoping to keep themselves relevant as the technology changes. RIM have shown what happens if you don't look to the future, so for a rare change I'll say publicly that I applaud Microsoft for these innovations, even though I currently don't expect to buy either.
Potentially this means that MS are quite right not to heed the user feedback on the interface of Win 8, because it isn't intended to do what we've all assumed, and perhaps Win 8 will not be mandated on new computers, but will sit alongside Win 7 for some years, and you choose whichever you need. I hope so - it'd be a pity if if they screwed up the roll out by trying to foist it onto unwilling users.
Pessimistic indeed. I use my Asus Transformer (Original), Galaxy Tab 7" (Original), my SGS II and my Desire all reasonably regularly. Each has found a different niche.
The Desire is "just a phone." It can sometimes browse if I am out of other options, and it can serve as twitter client for the customer twitter accounts I am supposed to monitor. It’s usually posting a WiFi hotspot for the tablets. Minor stuff.
The SGS II is a workhorse; the external battery case attached, I get a reasonably amount of use out of it. It serves as a SIP endpoint for my corporate extension, RDP client for all of the things and all-around general-purpose computer in my pocket.
The 7” Galaxy tab is an ebook reader and thing-I-play-Angry-Birds on. 100% pure content consumption.
The Asus Transformer gets a crazy stupid amount of battery life. 12 hours of use while it is charging the Desire via USB. With nothing more than my Desire and my Asus Transformer, I can plop down in the pub, RDP into my home VM and write articles for 12 straight hours before the battery dies. Nothing else comes close. Not a netbook, not an ultrabook…nothing.
What’s the point of a tablet? The same damned thing as a computer. Except the battery lasts a hell of a lot longer. The input devices you have available (mouse, keyboard, etc.) determine your ability to get various types of real work done. But push comes to shove, applications like Wyse Pocketcloud allow you to get real work done, even from a smartphone, if need be.
Portability. Convienience. Battery Life.
Why a tablet? Because I like to go outside from time to time. And there’s a whole world beyond my office walls to explore.
Yep. Walking around outside the walls of my office. Gardening. Visiting with friends. Figuring out exactly where that catwalk goes or just sitting under a tree, writing.
And no mater where I go...
...I can still provide tier 3 tech support when the call comes through. So I'm still getting paid. More importantly, that 24/7 availability and support my clients pay me for? (A major reason in choosing me over the competition, even at my higher rates.) I can provide it.
Without having to be tethered to a desk, 24/7.
Wherever I go, there I am…getting paid.
That sounds disturbingly like a cue for a song! You're not secretly writing a musical are you? It would be an impressive extra string to your bow, but I have a horrible feeling that:
Tech Support! Superstar!
Would be a sure fire, smash... Failure... Although I suppose you could put it on anyway, as a tax write-off.
Song 1: When The Call Comes Through
first line: Wherever I go, there I am…getting paid.
Sung by our hero with a chorus of black t-shirted, laptop wielding PFYs dancing in the background.
[Thinks: I must have had too much cheese last night]
They made a TV show called "The IT Crowd" and it was a hit all around the world. Why not a musical?
Featuring such worldwide hit songs as:
"Reboot! (Have you tried turning it off and on again?)"
"Wikipedia is down (what am I going to do?)"
"Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god..."
"The Failwhale is back, baby!"
...and many more!
Buy your season's tickets now!
"the Kindle and the iPad being the exception because of their close relationships with the content production sectors. And without content, neither Microsoft nor Google have much of a story. Google is relying on the increasingly bare public internet for "stuff", of which nothing is exclusive to Google. "
You seem to be missing the Google Play store, which now sells books, TV shows, Movies, Magazines, etc (just like Amazon and Apple). You can also use the kindle app (amongst others) on an Android tablet to view Kindle purchases.
IMHO the main thing that's missing from Android tablets is apps... and Google releasing a cheap but good (as opposed to the many cheap and rubbish Android tablets on the market) will kick start tablet app developers, and make people wonder why they're paying triple the money for an Apple Ipad that essentially doesn't do much more than the Nexus 7.
the Nokia fallacy.
It's not enough to have a store for music, apps, movies, etc. You also need to persuade the public that you're *the main choice* for music, apps, movies, etc.
Nokia failed spectacularly when it tried to create a content eco-system for its phones. Teh Glooge will likely fail spectacularly too, because it doesn't understand that an ecosystem isn't primarily about technology or about content, it's about the relationship users have with their devices, and the extent to which they will do your marketing for you.
'Everyone knows' you can get books on a Kindle and all kinds of things on an iPad. People buy these things and show them off to family and friends. A *lot* of unpaid person-to-person sales chatter has literally made these devices household names.
Where's the competing proposition for the Nexus?
If Teh Glooge had marketing clue they'd tie the tablet to some household content names, and sell it off the back of that. But - aside from a few geeks who'll buy a Nexus so they can root it - just saying 'Hey, we have a tablet and an online shop for stuff too' isn't going to cut much ice with a public that believes it already knows what it wants.
You make some excellent points, Mr/Ms H. But I would say the killer app you're all missing - for me, anyhow - is video media. There are some nice apps (like the excellent RockPlayer) that play all video types in common use on teh innerwebs (and who doesn't have a few gigs stashed away?), so plug in my trusty 32GB MicroSD loaded with sum fillums and telly shows, and I'm happy as a fanboy in an aluminium factory.
This is exactly how I felt about tablets since they came out.
When I am work, I have a laptop for consuming stuff, at home, another laptop.
On the train, my 'normal' mobile will do my email and, when I want to know the rugby scores, some web stuff as well.
Never really seen the point of another thing in my pocket, or if it is a ten incher, the extra bag I need to carry around what is basically a netbook without the keyboard.
You are right--for you, tech-based owner of two laptops. I'm in a similar boat.
But my mom has no laptop and doesn't need one. An iPad or similarly-featured-tablet-that's-not-quite-as-nice would be fine for her, and probably your mom or dad too, 90% of the moms and dads and aunts and uncles out there.
A smart TV would be perfect for my Mum. Except there isn't one with a UI she can operate. She simply doesn't think in tech. Maybe if Apple really do an iTV... But I have zero faith in any of the other manufacturers. Her iPad she can operate easily. This is a woman with a masters degree, who's still consulting, ten years after retiring - so all she needs is a UI that wasn't thrown together by somebody who was blindfolded. And possibly blind drunk...
You hear all the praise for the Sony PS3 as a media player. It's got one of the most horrific, un-intuitive, messy UI's I've ever had the misfortune to try and use. It's also horribly brown. Goodness knows what Sony's tellies are like, which haven't had billions spent on their development.
There still is no real compelling use-case for a tablet, beyond 'Being an iPad'
"Microsoft's Surface looks a slightly cannier bet.."
In essence all they're doing is having another stab at the Tablet PC market, but now at least the HW is capable of delivering a decent amount of use away from the desk.
If it weren't for that dreadful UI, I'd have to say Surface does look like the best of the non-iPads. Which I find disturbing in itself!
A couple of my colleagues here have bought tablets and seem to think I should. They dribble on about how 'cool' they are and 'how clear the display is'. What I haven't yet found is any reason at all for switching to a tablet from a laptop. A lot of what I do requires data entry (ie;a keyboard) and whenever I broach the issue the response is that the 'keyboard' is poor.
So basically it seems to me that a tablet is just a laptop without a keyboard and with a smaller screen. I'm struggling to see what the point is and I certainly don't see why they are 'the next big thing' :-/
"Google is relying on the increasingly bare public internet for "stuff", of which nothing is exclusive to Google"
They seem to have mentioned something called "Google Play" about 2 gazilion times during their presentation. Maybe they're thinking of using that in some way with the Nexus 7?
Whether that'll work or not is another matter but odd not to mention it in the "article".
One could argue that Apple were similarly crazy to go up against market-dominating Nokia, when they came out with the iPhone. However, Apple brought better hardware, a vastly improved user-experience and a working app ecosystem.
Are MS and Google bringing along similar innovations with their latest tablets? I don't see it.
I reckon it'll only be Glasses will give Google a chance against Apple. MS's current mobile attempts are hopeless. Still, it's nice of them to give Apple the appearance of competition.
Many people did say it was crazy, espically as the hardware was not better than similar phones at the time (XDA series for example) and there wasn't an app store at the time either.
Turns out those views were wrong, Apple sold loads. Which then enabled them to improve the hardware and app ecosystem.
As already said, the original iPhone hardware was quite pathetic, the "experience" was laughable to any rational being. However, sadly, most beings are not rational but wooly-headed fashion-sheep, and this is why Apple have had no problem in convincing them to buy the said rubbish at silly prices.
>>As already said, the original iPhone hardware was quite pathetic, the "experience" was laughable to any rational being
>>>Pathetic is your fixation on hardware / specifications, while what matters are design and functionality (2 aspects of user experience)
A Project Manager, a UI Designer, and an Engineer walk into a bar....
Between surface + the nexus tablet I think the surface is a much more interesting one. Looking at the nexus, it's fundamentally no different from an iPad. They're just offering a smaller screen for a lower cost, but the article is right - without the content it's of limited use, and the end result is that the price reflects the value it offers.
The surface at least offers something very different: the pro version can run windows apps, and has a stylus. There are big reasons to chose it over an iPad, and it doesn't need to be a loss-maker as a result. Whether people will actually buy it remains to be seen, but I think it could be a better bet. I think MS will have much better content deals in place (they have a lot already for the xbox, zune, and that recent barnes + noble deal) for the people who go for that.
Both companies really have to get devs interested though. As an iOS dev, android as a whole isn't very appealing. iOS apps tend to generate around 4x more income, and with android you have a lot more work to do to earn it because of the fragmentation issues (which ARE an issue for serious devs, like it or not) and you're dealing with a LOT more support work. Narrow this down to tablet apps, and android goes from unappealing to barely worth considering at all. The market is a huge amount smaller, and interest in apps from the android tablet owners is actually quite low. Cut-price tablets might help, but looking at the Fire the interest might be short-term.
Win8 might be a good platform for devs, but we don't know how well customers are going to take to it. After using it on the desktop (and seeing that final retro desktop, urgh!) I think this is a lot more of an unknown than it should be. I suspect it'll flop badly on the desktop, and that might impact its chances on tablet, but hopefully it will thrive - competition is good :)
This is an excellent article - something of a rarity these days. As you point out the iPad and Kindle really are the only devices worth using these days because they provide locked in content that you have to pay for.
It is increasingly frustrating to have to read information from the 'bare public internet'. Why oh why does The Register continue to make its content freely available online? Obviously no-one in their right mind wants to read content in this way. Hopefully both the nexus and surface fail and sites that have freely available "stuff" - like The Register - are shut down so people like the author of this article can get on with the serious job of writing content for people behind paywalls.
I use a 7" tablet every single day, for reading, news, music, some gaming, and especially video consumption on the move. I don't need that content to be tied into a single provider (I have three e-readers on my tab for example) or a single format (my tab happily gobbles up avi, mkv or MP4 vids), and its less hassle than carrying around multiple devices (as my iPhone is my work phone, I tend not to want to clog it up with music and video content that lunches the battery). If you played around with a tablet and couldn't think of a use for it, what kind of a tech journalist are you?
I won't buy a Nexus 7 because its not enough of a step up (lack of expandable memory means its actually a step down), but a Surface? Sure. You said it yourself, its a canny bet because its easily justified next time you want to upgrade your laptop or notebook.
Why, because it has a keyboard that does double duty as a cover? Will it really be beyond the wit of man for someone else to produce something similar as an accessory for one of the other tablets? And then where does that leave the Surface, when it's main USP no longer has a U?
The fact that you apparently don't know bluetooth keyboards, cases with stands and combinations of the 2 have been available for iPad since weeks after launch, says a lot for how in demand the concept is. It's a little harder for Android simply because there are so many form factors to accommodate but they're also available and of course there are Android devices like the Transformer.
All so successful most people never noticed they exist or noticed their plain old tablet is missing anything. Even hard keyboards on phones are getting hard to find, it's such a popular feature!
The only thing new about Surface is it runs Windows. That's it. The only question is will it perform better in the market than all the other failed attempts at the same thing. All that Surface RT is likely to achieve is increased awareness that iPad and Android can work with keyboards as more effort is made to sell them. As you say, Surface Pro is just an ultrabook with a detachable keyboard, quite useful but it's an ultrabook, the form factor no-one can afford as a toy.
Will it really be beyond the wit of man for someone else to produce something similar as an accessory for one of the other tablets...
Had mine a couple of months now.
For all it's faults, Apple hasn't forgotten the number one rule of business, to turn a profit, everything they do earns them money, and when that changes they stop doing it.
Way too many companies now seem to operate on the "get a billion users, ..., profit?" business plan, increasingly selling at a loss for marketshare, how is this supposed to be sustained as ever more industries are forcably switched to the underpants gnome model? by advertising? who is going to have money for advertising when everything is sold at a loss? Content? the stuff that people are downloading for free, that's slowly but surely working its way into a minimal broadband tax?
Major International corporations destroying physical markets on the offchance they will recover their losses penny by penny, or to cock block a successfull competitor is a sure sign that we're headed down shit creek.
1. “after 20 minutes, I've put it back in the box confident I'll never want to touch it again. ”
Why? I've used several devices and they all perform much the same function with a few differences. I've not ever found a compelling reason to claim the iPad does it all so much better, lovely device though it is. Is it at all possible that you are simply more familiar with the iOS way and everything else just feels a bit wrong? Familiarity bias.
2. “And without content, neither Microsoft nor Google have much of a story.”
What is this nebulous concept of “content”? Do you mean iTunes? Is that it? Very little of what I, and I suspect many others, use a tablet for is watching movies and listening to music. Most of what I use it for is reading articles, watching internet content (available almost equally on any web-connected devices except with big limitations on, crucially, the iPad) and interacting with social networks. How does the iPad do any of this stuff “better”?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing the iPad, but I am questioning the oft-stated claim that it does this stuff somehow better. As far as a range of sources of content goes both Android and Windows blow iOS out of the water. And, of course, an Intel Surface tablet will also run iTunes.
My Samsung Galaxy (8.9) has a higher resolution and is noticeably lighter than an IPad 2. It has better connectivity - I use DNLA, SMB, HDMI and an SD card, though the last two require adapters. I can choose which apps can open which files, e.g. Adobe Acrobat or the E-Book reader for PDFs and I use Adobe Proto for work and it's become my main personal music player.
I've seen an I-Pad in action: yes, the display is silkier but notifications and widgets are better on mine as is the default e-mail client. There are more apps for IOS, though few that I really missed apart from The Economist. But even that changed last night, no surprise methinks. Google must have lobbied publishers pretty hard.
Lots of people love their I-Pads with good reason but I have friends who complain about the restrictions imposed and who are planning to make their next device an Android. Though, it would be just as much a mistake to extrapolate too much from their sentiment as Andrew is from his. And, Andrew famously got the emergency of the I-Phone wrong.
"As far as a range of sources of content goes both Android and Windows blow iOS out of the water. And, of course, an Intel Surface tablet will also run iTunes."
What do you mean by content? Music, videos and books are equivalent on all, but APPS, my God, iOS is five years ahead - not to mention hardware, UI and a shit ton of intangibles. apple wins this round, what comes next?
5 years? Really? If you have a developed app, as in the source code, porting is much, much easier than the writing from scratch was. At least if your code is properly commented (it is, isn't it? Thought so.) The rest of your list is just so silly, I'm taking "intangibles" to mean "tunnel vision".
The difference is marketing and promo.
Err... the Nexus 7 tablet is designed for Google Play - that's movies, tv shows, music, books, games, apps.
Google are clearly banking on tying the consumer more deeply into the Android ecosystem by having them purchase a vault of relatively expensive "stuff" that lives on the Google servers.
So how exactly is this the "bare public internet"?
And although Orlowski may not like tablets, millions of ordinary consumers do like them - and an awful lot of consumers prefer them to laptops and netbooks which must be scaring Microsoft witless.
If you just want to consume stuff, then tablets have a great deal of appeal, on numerous levels, even ones from Google, and maybe even Microsoft (although if they're going to charge a premium price for their shit then they're in for a big surprise!)
Ah another AO article bashing google. Good to see the sun still rises in the east!
I'm not sure I heard all the handset makers wailing and ganshing teeth over the nexus phone and as for content, sure there may be more on the iphone however i can still get the kindle client and the play store does movies etc now as well as watching mkv (yes I know Mr O thinks its the worse sin in the world to watch what i own in a way that Big Content doesn't approve of)
I don't remember too many people moaning that the Kindle was being sold at a loss
A modern tablet well under half the price of a Ipad will be nice for those that don't have the luxury of spending a bucket load.
Google has always pushed out Nexus reference devices without ruining the Android market for the other manufacturers so they might think this will be the same but I do agree that at that low price it's looking like the best option and so might make more of an impact in the sales figures than previous Nexuses (Nexi?).
If they aren't ready to turn out the hardware themselves yet or if they had an existing agreement to give the next Nexus job to Asus then you can see why they bypassed Motorola but doing so does make one wonder why they bought it in the first place - seems crazy if patents alone made it worth it.
I don't understand though why you couldn't find a use for one of these devices - outside of the real-time audio issues is there any way they are notably inferior to the iPad? I'm equally happy with my iPod Touch and my Android phone for web browsing, media access etc
There a market there and these seem like plausible entrants to it (well, I have yet to have a go on one of the Microsoft slabs but let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they actually do most of what they claim).
I've been sceptical about tablets (probably sour grapes because I don't produce any software for them). But it didn't take much decision-making to pre-order the Nexus 7, because it's quite cheap, it looks a lot of fun, and I'm hooked on Android now we all have Ascend G300 cheap-and-cheerful Android phones at home. I couldn't bring myself to order an Ainol tablet (yup, Ainol) though it would have been a conversation-starter, and I expect a lot of people will feel better about buying a Google device than a no-name or downright-strange-name brand. Besides, it looks like the ideal machine for my wife to ogle property porn. The only slight concern is whether it'll do BBC iPlayer - it would be a good machine for that, but there's a question mark over Flash support in Android 4.0+ devices. Surely the Beeb must be preparing for a Flash-less world.
Maybe it'll end up in a cupboard but given the amount of time I spend reading The Register on my phone, I suspect it'll be excellent for second-screening. It'll be interesting to see if it takes over from the Kindle we already own - probably not, the Kindle display still wins over LCD for reading fiction.
As for the Surface, I'm sore from facepalming at Microsoft's antics with Windows 8. I can't see many consumers buying that overpriced, lap-unfriendly reinvented notebook, and Metroised Windows 8 on the desktop could well turn some customers off it. Corporate types will probably buy lots of them to show off.
No Flash support in the Nexus 7, but the BBC have been supporting h.264 for quite a while - they just need to sort their shit out so that they don't limit the use of h.264 to iDevices. The BBC need to realisethat pretty much every modern mobile device can now decode h.264 (even MeeGo).
If anyone at Samsung woke up this morning surprised by the google nexus tablet , they must have been living Timbuktu - its a move that was expected.
Nexus is set to compete with Amazons tablet, not Apple nor Samsung. Hint - its all in the price.
P.S. If you dont want any of the free tablets you have mentioned send them our way - The rest of us who live in reality and cannot afford £350 to be a hipster - £160 will make us think.
I think both will be a success for different reasons.
Google has become a verb. So the average consumer seeing a Google tablet for £160 will be tempted.
As for Microsoft in the words of my wife who owns an iPad but hardly ever uses it, "at last I will be able to do Excel."
it's really that simple. Apple only needed their iPad to look nice to attract the average consumer. I know loads of non-tech people who bought the iPad without even checking if it could do what they wanted it to do or indeed even having a task they wanted to achieve with it.
Google aren't perfect, but they've done a good job with Android and it happens to work the way my brain works. I don't like the way Apple products work, and so I don't give Apple any money (certainly not £400). But £150 for something shiny with my favourite mobile operating system on it? Sure. Why not. It's just that simple.
As for actual uses for tablets? I've got one for you. In our house we've got an iPad v1 that I got from work (for free, I'll point out as not to negate the paragraph above) and we leave it in the dining room for communal use. When we decide what's for dinner that week, somebody will load up the recipes in tabs in Safari, then whoever's cooking can take it into the kitchen with them for easy access. No spilling things on your laptop keyboard or losing your phone in amongst the ingredients - plus, it's much easier to read off of as things are burning in your peripheral vision.
Not worth the price exclusively for that, but added to web browsing / email checking / quick-access video watching etc and £150 doesn't look that bad.
Are you comparing iTunes with xbox live, xbox music/video (aka Zune) - Barnes & Noble?
2. Surface pro you're talking about? Surface RT will be a few $100's cheaper than an ultrabook.
MS have it gelling nicely via the cloud with most of the planets PC's and 66 million TV's (via XBOX)
I think they'll do well with Surface (It's what i've been waiting for PC wise) and Nexus will do well probably.
“after 20 minutes, I've put it back in the box confident I'll never want to touch it again. ”
You could have simply posted "as all my content is locked into iTunes, I cant't access most of it without some work, therefore I don't want to mess with it."
You see I watch Netflix on my tablet, original Xoom(Google experience), I listen to my Amazon music, my Google music, Pandora, etc. I watch youtube videos from the app, play games, read books, draw(loosely using that term), etc. It does everything the iPad does, the issue is not with the device and the ridiculous comment on content proves that. Google play have been out for sometime, offering the same basic content as the iTunes store.
"as all my content is locked into iTunes, I cant't access most of it without some work, therefore I don't want to mess with it."
<THWACK> (Nail on head).
Trouble is, that probably sums up the attitude of the vast majority of the tablet-buying public....
I'm betting the Nexus 7 will be a runaway success for Google and the Android platform. I wouldn't be too surprised if Amazon's Kindle team are crying into their beer at the moment because the international version of the Fire was just still born thanks to the Nexus.
Samsung? They've got other worries (like making enough S3s to keep up with demand).
I know that I'm unique in many ways and I believe I have discovered one more.
I now realise that I am not the universe's authority on what is or is not a good piece of technology, nor do I fill that position on the question of what is The Only True Way in technology development. I've found that all I know is what I like, for me, and what I've found that satisfies my needs.
Strangely enough, this makes me happier than being the universe's authority appears to do for the dozens and dozen's of commentards competing on this site for the title.
I think we all agree with the "we use what we like". What we don't like is someone arbitrarily touting that something is useless and can't compete with another similar product because of [insert vague reason here].
I like the iPad, but what keeps me away is boutique pricing and a Gestapo mentality. I would not live in a gated community if I was required to purchase all of my daily consumables from the builder-owned Big-Box-Store, being unable to select even the furnishings unless the builder approved of them.
I play around with an iPad in work. But would I buy one? Nope. it costs too much. far too much. I don't think the people who write these articles realise how much that is to someone on a lower working wage. Would I like a tablet, Hell yeah. And the nexus 7 will probably be it. I've looked at the existing cheap alternatives and I really don't want to risk 200 quid on a piece of junk from china.
As for the Surface, I can imagine all the execs in here (I work for a large corporation) loving it. And it would actually be handy for their jobs. If it was cheaper, I might be considering buying it as a laptop alternative, but ultra book prices are still too high (which is why they haven't become as popular as the manufacturers wish)
.. and you will sell millions.
You already see people watching TV (Iplayer), reading books (Kindle app) if it gets to the same price as an Ipod, it will become a christmas pressie for millions of children.
One other major strength is that it does not have a sim-card - so there are no data costs compared to a smartphone.
It will be £99 by christmas '13
Nexus 7 8GB - £159
iPod Touch 8GB - £169
Nexus 7 16GB - £199
iPod Touch 32GB - £249 (no 16GB available)
Am considering it for much the same reason - better video experience than a phone screen, without the 10" size/cost. Lack of SD card the main drawback but how many movies can you watch in one flight?
Google only officially acquired Motorola a few weeks ago, surely that is not enough time for the resources of Motorola to be brought to bear on the Nexus 7 project, design, engineer, and manufacture the device for initial display. All points that were omitted by the "article".
"Without stuff to do tablets are a forgotten niche of computing". Really? My Xoom is my GPS (MapDroid), my mobile email access, is used to invoice customers on-site, manage business expenses as they occur, view PDF files (and some e-books too). It serves as a VNC terminal, an SSH client, a VOIP phone, my appointment calendar, a network analyser, a camera, and much more. Then, when all the work is done, I can (and sometimes do) play a game. Only thing I am disappointed with is that MotoPrint does not work under ICS, it fails to install. Very bad. Motorola/Google... please fix this.
No, I'm afraid the now one year old tablet has quite effectively replaced my laptop.
Content is king for those sell it or are addicted to it. Like most people I love a good movie, not ON my tablet, but FROM my tablet ON my Big-screen TV. Yes I have used the tablet to rent and playback movies, but with the trend to charge premium fees for shuffling data to my device there are still a lot of DVD rentals and trips to the theatre yet to be had.
The iPad _IS_ only for amusement. Apple's restrictions guarantee that it's difficult to do work stuff on it, and completely unsuitable in an enterprise environment.
The kindle, and presumably the Nexus 7, are also locked down and optimized for content consumption (ie, non-work). I'd expect to see it take 4th place in tablet sales (behind Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, in that order), maybe third.
The Microsoft Surface, though, looks to be targeted squarely at the forgotten-on-tablets productivity market - with office included and a keyboard-case. If Microsoft sees the writing on the wall and cuts the price of the surface to something approaching reality, it will be successful, because it (appears to be, at least) catering to a market that the rest of the tablet manufacturers seem to treat with apathy or outright hostility.
Indeed, but only one out of the two announced models.
One's a laptop wherein the keyboard snaps off. The other is pretty much a Windows 8 phone that's not a phone. With a keyboard that snaps off. Little brother only runs RT, and I doubt you currently leverage your office laptop to run Metro apps. But yeah.
The Apple loving world would always come up with one or the other excuse to show others in poor light. This is what I call as "iSuccumb, iSnob and iSupplicate" syndrome.
When the original iPad came out, thicker, not so wieldy , without a front camera and all that, the same tech writers would wax eloquently about who on earth needs a camera for anything on a Tablet form factor, and focus on 65000 Tablet ready Apps that are up for grabs !
When Android posed competition, with better screen resolution, useful front/ rear camera, flash support and the like, they would cite its continued clumsiness, the futility of hardware without software etc.
All the 'hardware focus' bashing happened until the new iPad launched. The same writers would then write thesis about the benefits of higher resolution screen, quality of camera, processor speed and what not ! So, when Apple beefs up its HW, it's worth paying attention. If others crack it before Apple does, it's of no use without Apps.
Honestly, have these chaps ever run any survey to find how many 'active' Apps does an average Tablet user needs or misses ? I bet most use it for content consumption - but not necessarily via Apps or not even via dedicated providers like Amazon. How on earth would someone have consumed content if Tablets were never invented. It's just the browser, stupid !
I reckon most Tablet users browse articles/ news, watch Videos, Video chat, email etc, I have seen a 7" tablet user (first Galaxy tab) used by a Taxi driver in France as a brilliant GPS alongside receiving calls etc. via bluetooth.
It's the sick Apple slave brigade that keeps moaning about the virtue of Apps, Apps and more Apps. Beyond the initial voyeuristic delight of collecting an App for everything, nobody bothers to use any more than 20-30 apps in a regular way. And, these are available on most Platforms, some even on Crackberries !
A 7" Tablet in which (hopefully) the battery can be replaced with less effort/ hassle, with no need for proprietary b**sh*t to be bought and re-bought to make things work will end up in landfill much much later than 'fused-battery' Mac Airs which are an environmental disaster, all in the name of sleek design mania.
I have a Xoom, had it for about 4 months. Best thing I have bought in ages. In fact I bought the other half one for her birthday for #220 new the other day.
It depends what you want to do with them - I have found mine (as will she) perfect for web browsing, checking emails, reading some news, watching some telly and listening to podcasts etc.
I am under no illusions that the ipad is "better" but for what I need, this machine (which I am typing on now) for the price (I paid #250) for a 32gb tablet, is perfect. Best of all is how long the battery lasts - again not unique to this device. After a trip to London and back on the train (over 2 hrs each way) and a bit of use while there, it still had over 50% left.
(From my point of view, best of all is the ability to load it up with recorded TV from my Media Centre pc... it just plays the files, no faff. It's a bit slow to load on over USB but quicker than transcoding it all.)
So the Nexus 7 will have a market - but will it nick share from Apple? At #200 it might. The apps are getting better. Ever since I got this Xoom I've been saying Android tablets are much to expensive to compete - they need to be at the #250 level compared to a similarly-specced ipad. I certainly wouldn't pay #400-500 for an Android tablet.. Madness.
And there's another thing: every Android tablet I play with in a store runs like treacle. They never seem to stand up to the ipad next to them. Yet, shorn of all the crapware, vendor add-ons, pointless live wallpaper, and with a new launcher, they're perfectly fine.
(BTW the only issue I have, is whatever ROM I put onto this thing won't let this bluetooth keyboard type pound signs...)
When MS introduced the Xbox, Nintendo and Sony sounded much like Apple today, smug and snobbish in their supposed market domination.
We know how that played out.
The minute they lower the Surface price to X-box mass consumer range, it's game over for Crapple.
All these posts sneering "it's just a content delivery device" - "you can't do anything serious with them" - "tablets, what's the point"...
The iPad I'm typing this on does the following (note, I have a Bluetooth keyboard for big typing) - and I use them all on a regular basis. Seriously.
- HTML edits
- all corporate email
- TeamViewer remote control access for support work (which works beautifully over 3G)
- Codea for a little programming fun
- blog work
- music studio (2, nano studio and GarageBand)
- instrument (several, including analog synth emus and drum machines)
- network diagnostic tool (some ping utils, etc)
- eBay, PayPal, etc
- mind maps for creative thinking
- cocktail lists (diffords #8)
- Skydrive, SugarSync work
- FTP, WebDAV clients
- several office compatibles for doc and spreadsheet work
- remote controls (intelliremote rocks)
- telnet work for servers
And loads more.
I daresay all this is possible on a droid tablet too - so stop sneering and see what you can do with the resource. Positivity wins out every time, in my book.
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