It’s pretty much set in stone at this point that Google will unveil the Nexus 7 tablet today at the kickoff of Google’s I/O developer conference in San Francisco. With the Nexus 7, Google is hoping to make a dent in the tablet market dominated by Apple’s iPad, whose only competition came (briefly) from the sub-$250 Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet hybrid ereader/tablet devices. There have been many Android tablets released in the last 18 months, and all have failed to generate meaningful sales.
So can Google’s Nexus 7 be the tablet that finally breaks this trend and gives Apple the competition the tablet market so sorely needs? We obviously hope so, but Google and Co. will need to focus on four key areas to generate consumer interest in their Android 4.1 slate.
The biggest gripe with Android tablets thus far have been the severe lack of applications available that are customized to the larger screens. The remedy thus far has been blown-up phone applications, which look awful on a 10″ screen. Google has a slight advantage here in that these applications look fairly decent on the 7″ screens, but Google still needs to push developers to put out versions of their applications that take full advantage of the larger displays afforded to them by tablets.
Google has previously said that it wants to double down on tablets this year, and with Google I/O set to kick off today, Google has a perfect opportunity to reach the developers it needs to get this goal accomplished. Here’s hoping Google places a focus on apps when it takes the stage later this morning.
When it comes to getting the most people to adopt a product that doesn’t have an Apple logo on the side, pricing is key. Amazon showed the power of the bargain when it unveiled the $200 Kindle Fire, which sold like hotcakes throughout the holiday season. Other Android tabs have been fairly expensive, with price points mirroring Apple’s iPad, and sales have obviously suffered. In order for Google to have a shot at success, it will need to keep the price point low.
Fortunately, it looks like Google is doing the right thing here. We first suggested that the Nexus Tablet would retail for $149-$199, and all signs recently are pointing to an 8GB model for $199, and a 16GB model for $249. This is with a fully-powered Tegra 3 quad-core processor inside, giving Google the unquestionable leg up against the low-cost competition.
Marketing is something Apple has done extremely well with its iPhone and iPad devices. Adverts for Apple’s leading slate are everywhere, from your television, to the websites you visit, and even on many bus stop benches. Amazon’s marketing with the Kindle Fire was almost equally impressive, with the tablet plastered all across Amazon’s homepage, as well as a few TV ads geared at generating large amounts of sales.
How many people use Google? That’s right, a crapton. While Google usually doesn’t do more than text ads on its own page, we’d like to see Google do more of a visual push on the Nexus 7, perhaps featuring it in the daily doodle a few times in the first few weeks. Google will also need to buy some TV spots in key markets, similar to what it and Samsung did with the Galaxy Nexus device, one of the few Android phones people actually lined up at stores to purchase (see also: Galaxy S III).
In short, the advertising campaign needs to be large scale if Google is to successfully push the Nexus 7 tablet.
Again, how many people use Google’s services? From Drive to Gmail, hundreds of millions of people are using Google’s services every day, and even though competing tablets can hook you into these services, nobody does it as well as Google itself. The Android Google experience is head and shoulders above the competition, and Google needs to demonstrate that ecosystem experience in its marketing campaign.
Google is also set to launch a true cloud storage platform to rival that offered by the likes of Amazon and Dropbox. Imagine if Google offered something extra–say, 50-100GB of free storage–if you purchase a Nexus 7 tablet. The costs to Google would be fairly minimal, and free cloud storage is a strong incentive to get people to purchase a tablet, especially when the tablet only costs $200. And the return for Google is two-fold, not only do they get more Android tablets (and therefore, search revenue) in the hands of consumers, they tie these customers into their cloud storage service, and as more and more services move to the cloud, people would likely upgrade to Google’s higher storage tiers.
So too with a tie-in to Google Music, another under-performing service Google is hoping to bolster.
Google I/O is set to kick off in just a few short hours, and we should learn a lot more about the Nexus 7 tablet very soon. Google has the potential to make the Nexus 7 a runaway success, if only Google puts an adequate amount of focus on apps, pricing, marketing, and the powerful Google ecosystem. Should they do so, we believe the Nexus 7 could finally be the tablet that can help Android emerge as a true competitor in the tablet market.