Google is in cahoots with Verizon developing a tablet device, reports the WSJ. But with the world and his dog also developing copycat iPads, it's hard to see what Google in particular can bring to the market. The brutal lesson Apple has handed to the phone business is that unless you can deploy very high quality design …
The Chrome browser
The success of the Chrome browser may show some potential for the tablet.
At first I didn't think that a tablet with nothing but a browser would be useful, but the iPad has shown how little functionality people need in order to buy.
Nokia has wood pulp in its DNA, not consumer electronics.
There's always some small screwup
If the tablet can run something easy to use like Python with a decent GUI toolkit like GTK or Qt, and does the cellphone bit, I'd buy one.
I have an N800 and love it, and have several apps on it that I live by. I want an N900 but I can't get one, because Nokia won't make one that uses the AT&T 3G frequencies, and T-Mobile doesn't have coverage here. I'd end up paying nearly $700 for a phone that only does 2G. I'm as rabid a Nokia fanboi as any, but that doesn't make sense to me.
I've looked at porting my apps to Android but it has a really weak set of widgets, so it'd be a major PITA of writing my own damned custom widgets from scratch. No thanks.
Given Google's penchant for collecting every bit of data it can lay its tentacles on I suspect they consider their 'archive' to be almost literally everything you can access online
Google isn't "archiving" anything, other than when you use them as a storage service. I trust Google's privacy policies a lot more than Apple's and MobileMe's.
(Not to mention that MobileMe or whatever it is called these days just isn't very good.)
I would assume by archive they mean the software services Google offer.
I mean with a fast Chrome browser on a tablet you get gmail, docs, RSS reader, shopping, you tube, book search, blogger etc etc.
I don't imagine it would take much to enhance these things for a tablet either.
Who's copying who?
"But with the world and his dog also developing copycat iPads"
Funny how some of those "copycats" were in production before the iPad was even announced. In fact, I saw my first iPad copycat back in 2008 from Archos. Creative had iPod copycats before iPods came out. LG had an iPhone copycat before the iPhone was out.
None of those were Apple's ideas in the first place. The last good innovation I can recall actually coming from Apple was MacOS back in the mid-80's. Please, get over it.
...Oh yeah, almost forgot about the iMac copycats that people have been knocking pins down with for ages. I'll admit though, iMacs are indeed much more satisfying for that sport.
A desperate fanboi
A desperate fanboi blinded by his religion and spiritual leader, having taken a bite of the fruit, would fully believe that these are copies of the ipad, after all Apple went to market first right, it doesn't matter that the likes of HP were developing much earlier...
no need for deceptive spying methods then
given googles anti privacy, recording everything you do, won't having a google pad just be like carrying their spycam to spy on you
The business is books, books, books
Don't forget that Google is going into electronic book business since it has now scanned many publications.
Apple advantages overrated
I don't think content-wise it's looking good for Apple. iBook has limited selection and will likely be blown out of the water by Google Books. iTunes, similarly, is far from complete and will likely be quickly surpassed by YouTube rentals. If you buy from either store, you're permanently stuck with Apple products; no competition ever. And there will be plenty of media companies that will want to cut out Apple as the middle man.
For developers, Apple is not so hot either: an haphazard approval process and restrictive and (arguably) outdated languages and tools. And Apple seems incapable of delivering low-cost devices, meaning that developers betting on Mac are limited to a narrow market of people who can afford $1000+ laptops and $500+ tablets.
Finally, Apple design is far from perfect. Apple has a good out-of-box experience, but in terms of long-term livability, their products can be mediocre. The iPad has an annoying keyboard, messy home screen (hopefully fixed in 4.0 with folders, but we'll see), and other limitations.
I think Google will be doing just fine. I'm looking forward to being able to replace my iPad with an Android tablet.
PDAs and Slate PCs - yeah, they didn't exist until Apple made them.
Re: didn't exist until Apple
Actording to Wikipedia, Apple started seriously thinking about their Newton / Messagepad devices in 1987, going on sale in 1993.
I have used an almost touchscreen computer made by HP in 1983, but it wasn't a slate. It DID have a Microsoft operating system.
Agree and disagree
First off Andrew, nice work. I love your sense of timeless sobriety and skepticism while most reporters / analysts are caught up in whatever the current trend is.
And secondly, I have to say you've hit the nail on the head with device sales. If you look at revenue, the closer to the hardware a company is, the more money it makes. HP is 100 billion, Microsoft and Apple about 60 billion, Google 20 and Adobe only 8 billion.
The problem? As you've pointed out, people see software as intangible, and pirate it. Not only are people more willing to pay for hardware, but they are less likely to steal it as well.
So that pushes companies to tie their software too hardware. So far, Apple is the best example of this vertical integration. But if you really look at Android, although the OS is open source, the radio drivers that actually interface to the cell phone are Google property, which they license to phone manufacturers. This is Google's attempt at a Microsoft style revenue model.
But which products succeed? If you look at Apple, they won against the cell carriers closed models because they had something more open. Android sales are now surpassing the iPhone, because Android is more open that the iPhone. The truth is that consumers favor the products that favor them, in terms of control and price.
I would argue the exact opposite of your premise in this article. That consumers favored the iPhone not because of it's integrated designed, but because they could run a variety of apps, and because they had a real web browser, and full access to a data network. In other words, consumers favor freedom and utility, not pre-packaged vertical control. And Android's success only continues to confirm this view.
just a point
agree on most of your points but Google is just a decade old company, Apple and Microsoft are more than 3 decades old. And if you check stuff like operating margins, profit margins you will find Google ahead of Apple even today, although microsoft beats both of them.
I bought the first generation iPhone as it was the first smartphone that worked properly, e.g. had a working web browser, simple interface and did all the things that I wanted. When 3rd party applications were subsequently added along with the free upgrade to the iPhone 3G, it just made a great experience better.
At the time the rest of the market had stagnated with pretty poor interfaces (choose betwen Microsoft and Symbian), tied to the telcos (Orange's branding everywhere), poor applications (web browsers, email, and no chance of installing 3rd party applications) and lousy hardware (stylus input - scratchy scratchy loosy stylus, low-quality low-resolution wishy-washy screens, resistive touch input). Also it was impossible to update the software: buy a new phone and throw out the old.
I think it couldn't be illustrated better than Sony Ericsson's P900, a good but not great phone for it's era. The updated version P910 was ever-so-slightly better but nowhere near worth upgrading to. Then the P990 went backwards offering a worse user interface and unreliability as standard.
Moving from the P900 to the iPhone 1G was an amazing experience. Truly moving from one generation to the next. Then moving from the iPhone 1G to 3G with its GPS and 3G just made a great experience even better.
Well done Apple for sticking it to the competition and truly raising the bar.
If you're Verizon or Sprint, no iFruit for you!
So get something else to offer the smartphone hungry consumer post haste, or lose customers. Waiting for Windows Phone 7 in the hope it's going to save your bacon had better not be plan A.
What Google's tablet can deliver
is the same thing the iPad can deliver, except without the chains and the stupid plasticky interface (and especially, without iTunes!). I don't know why people claim that Apple can do interfaces so well, every Apple device I've ever tried to use has been a right pain in the posterior.
I'll be watching this development with interest, I would rather like to have a tablet for media and web use that actually runs a sensible OS. If it's running Android and can use the same app store, then I already know there's a decent SSH client for it. If I can tunnel X over that SSH session and find an X11 server I can get up and running on an Android tablet, I'll be really happy.
Posts like this confuse me. It's like people are willfully missing the point of consumer-oriented tablets like the iPad and so on.
The executive of any company that makes a tablet aimed at the "I want SSH and X11" crowd should be taken out the back and shot by its shareholders.
missed the point
It's not that the tablet should be designed specifically for this purpose but it is incorporating flexibility within the design that allows this to be done that I and many other consumers want
Let us see if Apple has total control.
1) Foxconn manufactures the actual phone, Foxconn also makes phones for other companies
2) Samsung does the chip fabrication(strange eh, Apple is dependent on a company which is its competitor)
3) Samsung also provides the display, Flash memories and various other critical things
4) The carriers AT&T and others are not under Apple's control. Carriers are free to market android phones, Nokia phones etc as they see fit. Verizon literally humiliated IPhone in the DROID DOES campaign, yet Apple has to go begging to Verizon to fend off the android assault in its home bastion.
5) They are dependent on ARM technologies which supplies technologies to all their rivals.
I am sure there are many other ways Apple is dependent on others in a critical manner. And by the way Nokia has 1000s of patents in mobile, if anything I am pretty sure they will get a good deal of money in cross licensing from Apple soon.
Hear the woosh ...
... as the point flies over people's heads.
1) A contractor .. so what. They like money as well as the next contractor.
2) A commodity / component supplier ... so what. They like money as well as the next supplier.
3) Ditto ... repeating for effect does not work.
4) There is a whole world beyond the US with a far larger untapped user base.
5) And they have bought and moved in-house two top-level ARM-based chip design houses.
There are only TWO components that really matter to joe public / consumers about a product .. physicality and usability ... both of these are under Apple's direct control.
it is well known that AT&T service sucks(recent survey claimed AT&T is the worst in US) and if you have a phone, you would want to have a good service(at the least). And there is nothing Apple can do about it.
Samsung is not a commodity supplier alone, it is also a smartphone manufacturer which is the field in which Apple makes most of it revenues. Depending on a competitor for anything at all is silly. As for ARM, Qualcomm, Nvidia etc can get some new optimized stuff from ARM which is licensed only to those companies and which will not be available to any other companies.
Choices (part two)
>won't having a google pad just be like carrying their spycam to spy on you<
Maybe, but at least it isn't Apple, or do you not think they have swathes of data on every iUser, your searches, fave web pages, apps you'll pay for, MP3s on your devices, credit card details, etc etc etc...
Who do I distrust less?
BINGO - GIVE THIS MAN THE AWARD
> but at least it isn't Apple
There we have it, someone finally, after years and years finally admitted what we all knew about the anti-Apple brigade "at least it isn't Apple".
As for "who do i distrust less?", for me it's Apple. I don't want my security handled by a Google billionaire who thinks simplistically along the lines of "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about".
I distrust a company that has to remind people that "we're not evil".
I distrust a company where they have scanned copyrighted works - have been threatened with Anti Trust - and are now going to sell those works!???!?!!! Seriously, do they understand the concept of copyright? Ah no, they are the owners of YouTube so of course they don't understand copyright.
And on the subject of copyright - here is a company trying to get copyright laws rewritten so that it can continue to operate as a multi billion dollar company in a new age.
So no, Google is untrustworthy in its entirety. They are beginning to make Microsoft look quite humble frankly.
Google on the right track...
The overpowering (and rapid) success of Google's Android platform and marketplace shows that Google knows what it is doing, and is doing it well (as does the size of Google's net worth). For example, they apparently know how to COOPERATE with other companies, such as hardware manufacturers, advertisers, and so on. Apple, on the other hand, apparently feels the need to absolutely control and bully all those they do business with (including their customers).
Saying that "Apple respects them (the copyright holders) enough to do business" I would argue is a false statement. Apple demonstrates little respect for anyone, and they "strong-arm" publishers, media companies, app developers, and wireless carriers to drastically reduce their "cuts" in favour of forking much of the profits into Apple's bank accounts.
Google, on the other hand, is comparatively benevolent; they give things away (like multiple web and cloud-based services, operating systems, free ebooks, and so on). Advertising pays their bills, so they do not have to gouge their customers and business partners mercilessly (as Apple does). But above and beyond that, Google uses a "nice guy" business model and serves as an example to other businesses that mutual trust and cooperation CAN be tools that allow various companies to coexist and prosper. Google is not suing others for using or modifying Android, it is a gift. Sure, some companies are changing the default web services in Android, but this gives Google a reason to compete with these other services on the merits of its own products, NOT by using litigation (as Apple would most assuredly do, eg: the "Psystar" issue).
Being "nice" is the best advertising any business could hope to have. Apple and Microsoft do not get this, but Google does. People -- customers and business partners -- like to feel respected, and that they can trust who they invest time and money with. You cannot trust a company that is like a pit-bull, unpredictably ripping other businesses apart (and sending threatening legal communications to talk show hosts who "dare" to humorously depict its product, aka Ellen Degeneres). Or a company which turns a blind eye to the use of child-labour, employee abuse, and the high suicide rates at the factories which make its shiny gadgets...what's "good" about that?
Just my two bits worth as to why I think this article is so much Apple-funded hogwash.
What can Google's tablet deliver?
Answer: Targeted ads and privacy concerns.
What do I win?
What about iPhone OS 4's ads in apps feature?
At least Android doesn't have features specifically designed to allow ads to be embedded within apps somehow. Unlike iPhone OS4.
But if the AdMob deal goes through it will soon.
Hello? Did you not see the bloody great joke icon on my post?
I have an HTC Hero and I love it. Most of the time, I can't stop talking about how great Android is, and how much it kicks the iPhones arse.
Just saw an oppourtunity for some humor (sort of, maybe) and so I took it.
Christ, commentards can be TOUCHY sometimes!
I hate suger marketing!
1. Apple is overpriced!
2. Copycats? -> Simens Simpad !
Why did you write this?
How dare you attempt to speak for me! What next, we all have to wear Mou suits and wave your little red book?
It's choice man. People are free to make their choices and buy whatever suits them. It's plain to see that the iPad/iPhone/MacBook doesn't suit you. Fine. But you're not me. And I'm more than happy to buy Apple gear and am delighted at being given the choice to not purchase tacky 'orible cheap-and-nasty plastic grot.
Some of us like the design of their kit, Apple's design principles and are more than prepared to pay for this quality.
My iPhone is the best smartphone device I've ever had. Sure, it's got problems (dropped calls), but it's so much better than anything else that I'll forgive it's odd foibles. Similarly my MacBook Pro is by far the best machine I've ever owned. Fast, reliable, simple, lovely design. Even the price (£2500) isn't that bad considering how much money I make from it -- for goodness sake, a plumber's tools would cost more.
Just because you don't like Apple kit doesn't make it irrelevant to others.
Is it me, or is the most basic functionality of a mobile phone it's ability to make and receive telephone calls? After all, that IS why it's called a mobile phone???
Do you drive a car where the engine cuts out for no reason every now and then?
Fly in a plane where the wings fall off at 30,000 feet?
Ride a bike with a chain that jams?
No, you'd complain and call it junk if you did (assuming you survived the plane crash).
But, you'll accept a phone that can't guarantee a conversion will get finished.
I can see it now... Here you are, sir, here's a new iCrap, it doesn't work very well, but look.. shiny shiny...
I'll take one, here's lots of cash.
Tell me a phone that doesn't drop calls
I've never had a phone (Moto/Nokia/iPhone/HTC) that didn't drop the odd call.
It's mainly due to the network rather than the phone. I don't see everyone saying "mobile phones aren't perfect, I don't want one".
(Do you use Windows or mobile phones? If so, then your whole argument about not using products unless they're perfect is rubbish)
So, you've got a choice of phone that you think looks nice and has some nice features or one that looks like a plastic brick and has few fancy features (or features that the telco have crippled).
Which one do you choose?
I'm not neccesarily saying the iPhone looks nice or has the best features, but you need to realise that for some people it is, that doesn't mean they're going to buy any apple product.
I for one love the iPhone design and features after jailbreaking but think the iPad is pointless and don't want one.
I'm more than happy with the Apple kit bought over the years ... the uni-body Macbook Pro's are simply the finest laptops I have used and own. OSX just gets better and better and is a pleasure to use. I am forced by work to use Windows, however I *choose* to use OSX and FreeBSD everywhere else.
The iPhone 3GS is my favourite gadget for the last 30 years (and I have a graveyard full of tried and failed gadgets) .. very compelling to use, lovely to handle and more useful software available than I can shake a stick at.
I am notoriously tight with money ... I research, try out and spend ages pondering the pros and cons of all the kit I use ... it has to pass tough tests before I splash out on new gear. I won't pre-order an iPad as I want to spend time with one before considering to purchase or look elsewhere. I'd certainly like a touchscreen, A4 pad form factor, always-on, always-connected, style of device - I been looking for such a device since using the Internet in '85 ... is the iPad it or would a cheaper less technically capable "netpad" be a good choice ... not sure yet.
The point is that Apple make compelling devices, it has superb customer service, it has a great feel for physical design and interactive/software design. As someone who spent many years in the field of interface design research and development, I appreciate the design touches that make Apple products so engaging. Its the physical little things like pulsating power lights, battery indicator LEDs, magnetic catches, the seal around the macbook pro screen and even the lack of user accessible battery compartments.
@max allen: you ever used windows mobile?
"dropping the odd call" is acceptable, understandable and, as you say, usually the network.
However, my experience of a phone running windows mobile was that I frequently missed incoming calls because the phone app was simply crap, nothing to do with the network at all. The app would simply hang. I only found out when I came to make a call and had to reboot the damn thing to make it work only to then find a load of voicemails waiting for me.
I will never buy a windows mobile phone again purely because the phone app was crap.
The purpose of a phone is to make/receive calls and send/receive sms. Everything else is a bonus. But if can't do the phone thing, it's a waste of space.
Too many choices
If you're looking at an iPhone/iPad you know when it was released and when the next better one will be released, buy it when it's released and you'll have the top of the line product for a year.
Compare with the android market where a plethora of choices mean the top of the line phone/pad is debatable and is supplanted every month or two regardless.
In the new mobile business it's only Apple and HP (since aquiring Palm), that can offer this to consumers, everyone else is on an upgrade treadmill with Android and (assuming it gets finished), WMP7S.
One year upgrade cycle on a two year contract
Too much choice?
You and Steve are perfect for each other!
I'd be quite happy
..with an affordable Android tablet with a nice screen and SDHC slots. My Android phone, only bigger, would be damn handy.
The iPads we have kicking around the office are gorgeous, but are too expensive and locked-down for my taste.
Apple do it better
I'm no fan of Apple per se, but they do things better.
MP3 players, slate PC's, touch screen phones and PDA's all existed before the i-Pod, i-Pad, i-Phone etc.
None of Apple's competitors offered a particularly easy, comfortable, smooth and responsive experience for the user; because none of them wanted to.
None of them wanted to provide an integrated and controlled experience, and none of them particularly cared if anything worked properly.
I'm not saying that Apple hardware is more powerful when comparing devices (in 'apple for apple' comparisons), because it isn't.
What matters is that your wife, your sister, your girlfriend etc can view it as a fashionable and expensive item; that it works with minimal attention to an instruction book, and that it does what they want it to.
Plus - by offering all this stuff in a heavily controlled sandbox environment, they've managed to get all the content developers and content owners to jump on board and offer everything they can (if they can get Apple's permission first).
These are all reasons why if people want an MP3 player, or a new phone, or a slate PC, they will strongly consider Apple before any other brand.
They would probably look at the alternatives and see a lack of decent available content, or a complicated user experience, or stuff that just doesn't work or is too damned complicated to use.
How many times have you heard somebody say 'I should have gotten an i-Phone'?
The only thing Google is good at delivering is...
... betaware mediocrity. While Apple appear to be making the land grab for MS's control-freakery, Google has gone for their inability to deliver anything other than half-baked tosh.
Other than their initial search engine, Google have consistently failed to deliver anything truly ground breaking at launch and, more importantly, feature-complete in their relatively short existence. I sincerely doubt that a GPad will be any different.
Expect to be severely underwhelmed.
Because Android 2.1 is betaware mediocrity.. and google maps? Pure bollocks, no-one uses that.
Google Earth, Google Docs, Google Mail. and some other stuff.
All very well presented and technically polished stuff.
As an entire ecosystem builds up around free Android, at what point does Google either: A) say it's no longer free and charge licensing fees; B) lose interest and drop it. They're in business to make money after all.
Re: Android future
Google doesn't need to make money from Android licensing - they can instead make money by licensing to manufacturers (I was sure that or (and since I've not accessed it) from taking a percentage from Android Marketplace sales. Or there's always the licensing to software vendors to allow them to use the Android logo etc on their products.
But remember that the whole raison d'etre of Android phones are to seduce folks to browse the web where, not surprisingly, they'll see Google ads. And that's dollars into the pockets of Google - why do you think that Apple are trying to muscle in on ads (although in true Apple-ist Stalinist mentality they'll be difficult to ignore/bypass).
That's fine for Google
When I pay full price I expect to have full wossname
"To design a good appliance, you need to control every piece in the chain."
Is it just me? I'm just not daft enough for a closed gadget where (having graciously relieved me of my hard-earned) some foreign corporation snootily retains control over what I can and can't do with it. I just can't see the attraction no matter how shiny-shiny it is.
NOTE this is not a dig at Apple (although it is) because I found out too late my 200 quid Nokia is nearly as bad.
complete control? really?
I must disagrre with the authoe's conclusion that total control is reqired for compelling gadget creation. Several of my favorite gadgets rely on products and services from 3rd parties. My chumby. My G1 running a modded os. My computer. My TV is nearly useless without a cable box or something else that pushes signal. And the killer app, the one that I Must Have on any telephony device I buy is google voice..
" it's hard to see what Google in particular can bring to the market."
It's very EASY to see.
A OPEN market that's not locked into "everything Apple(tm)".
Anyone that has a Android based handset will know about the "unknown sources" tickbox that allows you to install APK apps from anywhere (including SD card). No need to "jailbreak" Android handsets..
No music lockins, get and load your music from anywhere.
If you want to use the included Google services (navigation, gmail, calendar, maps etc), then you can (and should, as they outclass anything Apple offers, and for free), but the point is, you are not forced to.
Android offers a OPEN platform, with compelling reasons to use the Google services, rather than Apples approach to FORCE iPad/Pod/Phone users to use Apples services.
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