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The tell-tale signs of failure of Android as an ideal platform for Tablets

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on June 20, 2011

Smartphones and Tablets is where the big big competition is: Apple versus Android. The Closed and walled versus the Open. And yet, like the smartphone platform, Android is far from getting its act right. The greatest strength of the Android platform has been its “open-ness”(Debates around Honeycomb aside). This has allowed ODMs to work on the platform and position their devices and massify the platform. That was the primary reason for the rise of Android in the smartphones category from a non-entity to 36% whereabouts by Q2,2011. But the open-ness is perhaps the Achilles heal for Android leading to problems such as Fragmentation of the platform and lack of a uniform user experience. While Android managed to tide over the Smartphone markets even with fragmenting OS, the case for Android tablets will be markedly different.

The patchwork that is Android is not consistent enough to allow the platform to compete adequately with the competition. Google has set out to be loose in its control over Android as a platform, and that looseness is beginning to cost tablet makers millions, perhaps billions of dollars. The problem is there is no real Android for tablets, just a framework for OEMs to change at will to try and compete with their products. The problem is they are not competing with other platforms, they end up competing with other Android tablet makers and diluting the ability of the platform to make a run at Apple’s iPad.

Because it is symptomatic of the problem with Android in general, that the platform is totally fragmented due to no one company taking ownership of it as a platform. Google certainly doesn’t, and OEMs can’t. The end result is that Android tablet makers end up not competing with the iPad, the logical target, but rather with each other. Each Android tablet comes to market with different hardware (most of which actually works), and software that is different from that which ships with Android proper.

Consumers have no chance to make sense of this, so there will never be a uniform perception of the platform. Perception of a product is hugely important, and unless Google does something it will never catch consumer’s attention uniformly as a platform must do.

Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and many more OEMs are working on their versions of the Android tablets. Amazon is also speaking of its own Android tablet and chances are that Amazon will also produce its own spin atop the Android platform. Amazon will add a series of pieces—Cloud Drive, streaming video services and an Android app market—that play into the tablet strategy. It is expected that Amazon might price its tablet competitively and play upon its advantage of content to make money which could further lead to price-erosion. Amazon’s tablet will use the Kindle model quite effectively. It’s not the device that matters here. It’s the store. Other OEMs in that case will play match-up which is thus going to effectively lower margins for OEMs.

That adds to the complexity, un-uniformity, price-erosion and fragmentation of the platform. The volumes may increase as a result of OEMs clamouring upto Android but the consistency would be bad missing and that is going to add to the woes of Android, the Tablet platform.

Mobile Browsing and App sales on Android has not been linear with its popularity and growth
Android: Addressing platform fragmentation
Google Android (Open Platform): The Development and Deployment conundrum
Android Tablet faces fragmentation even before it takes off

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  1. […] surfing and 89% of Global internet surfing on tablet-based devices worldwide is coming from iPads.The utter failure of Android based tablets to gain meaningful marketshare makes a strong case for the sales success […]

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