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back to article Google planning to brand and sell Android tablets

Google is bypassing the channel to sell co-branded Android tablets directly via web shops. The internet advertising giant's Android operating system has struggled to take a serious bite out of Apple's fondleslab market share and now the web goliath is fixin' to take the matter in hand rather than relying on hardware partners and …

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Android UI issues?

Never had any on my phone, maybe it's tablet-specific instead - no use for a tablet yet. At least the touchboard is capable of displaying lower case when you're typing or can apple tablets do that - their phones & mp3 players certainly don't seem to be able to.

I always assumed Android tablets were like phones but bigger, interface-wise, maybe the Honeycomb UI is a bit poo?

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Thumb Up

Re: Android UI issues?

Android on phones and tablets is substantially different in appearance, Gingerbread was phone only, Honeycomb tablet only, Ice Cream Sandwich converges and progresses them.

Sent from my bloody brilliant 5 core Asus Transformer Prime (which happily runs at up to 1.6 GHz without getting hot)

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Anonymous Coward

Natural progression I would think, but waiting for updates will be a bind.

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Re: Android UI issues?

I don't get the UI Issues either. My 10 inch Advent Vega came with Gingerbread, which to be fair, on a large tablet was absolute rubbish. But I've since upgraded it to Ice Cream Sandwich and its perfect for a tablet, and in my opinion better than an iPad, and I have used both loads.

So one must assume that the analysis of the UI must have been based around Gingerbread? But Honeycomb, whose interface is almost the same as ICS tablet interface has been out for over a year now!

As for cost - I only paid £129 for mine and its near perfect with ICS. The only gripe is that the screen could do with a wider viewing angle.

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@g e: Indeed, the link in the article doesn't seem to contain any reference to criticism of the UI.

Bunkum basically.

The price is another matter though. Apple products usually come with a suckatax, so why are Android tablets the same price? That's why they're not shifting, because potential Android tablet purchasers aren't suckers.

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Anonymous Coward

They're self righteous pompous idiots who make their point by being negative without having anything positive to say.

Snide

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Anonymous Coward

It'll be interesting to see if they do a better job than they did selling/supporting their own phones. Or any of their other efforts that haven't done terribly well out side of search for consumers.

The subsidy idea strikes me as odd. It doesn't seem very sustainable, but the manufacturers would take the money and run. If a subsidy is needed where does the profit come in the long term or does google just plan a grab at market share and continually breaking even?

If they can sort out tablet optimised apps, that might help. Until then there are two horses - Apple and Amazon and they're not even in the same race

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Silver badge

Oppinions of UIs are very subjective. Personally, I love my Android UI (CM7 using LauncherPro) on my phone. My other half doesn't, and prefers her iPhone (we have both used both).

Price-wise, I completely agree. The way Android phones seemed to take off was the number of good-but-cheap models available. The drastically undercut Apple, increasing market share (Apple only have one price point, expensive, limitting their market). As market share increased, so did the quality of UI, hardware, and apps, helping increase market share even more.

This hasn't happened with tabs: Cheap ones are mostly terrible Chinese knockoffs, so bad reviews put people off buying 'droid tabs in general. High spec ones are great, but compete for the same market as Apple, and most of that market are already fanbois (plus, from what I have seen, the iPad is better as a tab than any droid-based offerrings).

What is needed is a killer low-priced reasonable-performance droid tab. The £150-£200 point is where I see the sweet spot, although look how well the ZTE Blade (Orange SanFransisco) did at £100. If Googorola can get something into the market at the £150 point, I think it will make a world of difference.

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Anonymous Coward

suckertax don't think so...

I just bought into apple for the first time, new iPad and guess what...EVERYTHING WORKS!

that's why android lags, I'm still waiting for my ICS update for my unbranded HTC sensation promised in the first quarter of the year. Those with branded handsets will wait longer than me.

Suckertax no, I just wanted a piece of quality electronics that worked out of the box.

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Gimp

@ AC fanboy

They're self righteous pompous idiots who make their point by being negative without having anything positive to say.

No, we are regular well-adjusted people who are sick of having iShit rammed in our faces every 5 fucking minutes.

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Anonymous Coward

Advertising platform

@Nergatron: "If a subsidy is needed where does the profit come in the long term or does google just plan a grab at market share and continually breaking even?"

The payoff is in mobile advertising - that's what Google developed Android for in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Advertising platform

From these figures (they're googles own) it seems that the pay off is coming from apple users. If you choose to look at it that way.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/mar/29/google-earns-more-iphone-android?cat=technology&type=article

Which if you were a cynical sort would show that Googles investment in Android was perhaps a little misguided. I'm not cynical though, there's a long time until all this shakes out.

But it does sort of make the point that taking sides Apple/Google is rather pointless.

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Holmes

Re: @ AC fanboy

Ah Mr Stike Vomit, judging from your past comments the words "regular" and "well-adjusted" are not the first to spring to mind when attempting to ascertain your character and that of the more militant members of the Android supporting community.

Getting back on topic, I hope these forthcoming Google branded tablets are innovative quality products. Not just copycat tablets which can only compete with Apple on price as they have nothing better to offer. Because if they don't Microsoft is going to come marching in very quickly and steal the Android show.

I have a theory that many so called Android fans don't really like Android that much, what unites them is a hatred of Apple. I suspect many are secretly bitter Microsoft supporters who are upset by Microsofts lack of progress with phones, mp3 players, tablets and general innovation over the last 6 odd years since the iPhone came out.

All these closet Microsofties in the Android community will soon jump ship if Google fails to deliver an inspiring product and Android stalls in the tablet space. Microsoft will be the main beneficiary attracting Android developers by the boatload with their highly regarded development tools and non Apple-ness. I hope this doesn't transpire as I would prefer to see an Apple vs Google race than another Apple vs Microsoft death match.

Jesus, it that the time? Can't hang around here all day spouting off about tablets. Im off to panic buy some fuel.

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Re:"All these closet Microsofties in the Android community"

That is positively magical. You managed to turn a discussion about how Google may (or may not) up its game in competition with Cupertino into a drive-by anti-Microsoft rant. I have to say that your capacity for intellectual gymnastics is impressive, quite the most innovative use of the straw-man tactic that I have seen in a very long time. Simply reclassify Android customers as closet 'Softies and Bob's you Aunty Joyce, one can turn a debate about the prospects of the Android os contra iOs into yet another MicroDemonBastard$oft posting.

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Alert

Re: suckertax don't think so...

That's the real point though. :)

It's not a "sickertax" it's a "branding cost". The value is what Apple have invested in their brand. The quality and design. Even if people have different tastes or needs, there is some value in branding as it gives a consistent and observable return to the purchase.

Google being newer to the market may not have this yet. So they cannot nessisarily ask for a similar price, just to add their branding and value. Because customers are yet to see for themselves if Google brings quality and design with the branding.

I look forward to paying a "suckatax" as long as it's one that returns something for the value other than just a logo or picture. :P

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Spellcheck? No, brains check!

That should read "suckatax" in the first line. I totally missed the word while eating my sarnie.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: suckertax don't think so...

So how do you account for some Android tablets costing more than iPads? The whole apple tax thing just doesn't apply.

Particularly since the release of the updated iPad and the price drop of the iPad 2.

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Re: suckertax don't think so...

So your HTC doesn't work now? It won't work until it gets upgraded?

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Trollface

But...

What's the point when It won't have that Apple Logo on it!

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FAIL

is it bullshit Friday or something?

"The internet advertising giant's Android operating system has struggled to take a serious bite out of Apple's fondleslab market share"

As IDC figues show Android tablets on 45% and iOS tablets on 55%. That's a pretty tasty bite in my book, especially considering the Kindle Fire has yet to launch anywhere but the US, and Google have yet to launch their own bran tablet.

Expect that to be 70% Android and 30% iOS before you know what hit you...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: is it bullshit Friday or something?

Oh so Amazon is Android when the figures suit you. That's like saying Linux is the same as BSD.

Utter rubbish

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FAIL

Re: is it bullshit Friday or something?

>>Expect that to be 70% Android and 30% iOS before you know what hit you...

No Barry, I won't, as I would call into question your access to the facts behind the future sales, future products and your impartiality given your previous rants.

You do your cause no good by spouting such utter rubbish.

As you are so keen on the fail icon you can have one from me.

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Linux

Re: is it bullshit Friday or something?

Can I run Android apps on it?

That's ultimately the only thing that matters.

If I can untar a copy of Oil Rush for Linux onto a Gentoo box and it runs, then Gentoo is Linux. The fact that there are a lot of other things that might be different in Gentoo doesn't really matter so much.

One typically defines a platform by compatability. This includes the Amiga, MacOS, Windows, Java, PhoneOS, and yes Android.

The fact that Amazon heavily brands it's stuff doesn't matter so much.

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Re: is it bullshit Friday or something?

Not so much. I don't know if any of the big top 500 HPC systems have the libraries to run Doom 3 installed, but it's still unmistakeably Linux. DItto routers, set top boxes and phones.

That said, there is a certain number of expected things either already baked in or easily available in anything calling itself a "Desktop" Linux.

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Re: is it bullshit Friday or something?

The comparison between Fire and Android and Linux and BSD is just silly. Linux and BSD are completely different kernels with a common POSIX abstraction layer and some shared user-space libraries. All android variants (including fire) share a custom linux kernel with a large amount of common user-space libraries, including VMs (Dalvik), UI controls, etc. The amount of UI customization and vendor specific extensions on top varies.

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FAIL

Re: is it bullshit Friday or something?

Well.. iPhones and iPads are alternately the same things or totally different when the point being made requires them to be.

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Pint

Reincarnation of the PC in another form

Just when some people left the PC (desktops) for dead, Google may Resurrect the PC in another form factor, in its new avatar, as tablets.

Google the Juggernaut is going to attack the monopoly & the status quo may change very soon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Reincarnation of the PC in another form

That's what they've been doing for the last three years...

But this new and better! Same old story

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Re: Reincarnation of the PC in another form

Right. Just like they did with their Nexus One store.

The article doesn't mention it, but the impetus of Google's previous online storefront wasn't just to provide a channel for the Nexus One--it was intended to remove distribution control from the carriers and open up a market place where *all* phones could be sold. Back then it was lauded as Google shaking up the incumbency and bringing in a new model to the industry--at least if you took Google's word.

As it turned out, no other device manufacturer joined and few customers came, and the rest is history.

That's the same "Google the Juggernaut" attacking "the monopoly & the status quo" back then too.

-dZ.

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Coat

Re: Reincarnation of the PC in another form

Considering they've been playing the same sort of stuff for the past 40 years or so, I doubt Status Quo will change very much now.

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Google "taking the fight to Amazon"

Erm.. Isn't the Fire an Android tablet?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google "taking the fight to Amazon"

No

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Bronze badge

Re: Google "taking the fight to Amazon"

Mostly.

It uses a custom compile of Android and doesn't use the Android store.

"Android" is defined in many ways depending on the technical expertise and the agenda of the person defining what it is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google "taking the fight to Amazon"

It's Amazons own flavour of Android - a fork I suppose and it's not officially support by Google or it would be allowed to carry the Android logo.

It's a customised version of Android that is developed by Amazon

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Silver badge

Re: Google "taking the fight to Amazon"

What does "compatibility" mean?

We define an "Android compatible" device as one that can run any application written by third-party developers using the Android SDK and NDK. We use this as a filter to separate devices that can participate in the Android app ecosystem, and those that cannot. Devices that are properly compatible can seek approval to use the Android trademark. Devices that are not compatible are merely derived from the Android source code and may not use the Android trademark.

In other words, compatibility is a prerequisite to participate in the Android apps ecosystem. Anyone is welcome to use the Android source code, but if the device isn't compatible, it's not considered part of the Android ecosystem.

http://source.android.com/faqs.html#what-does-compatibility-mean

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Meh

Well...

...maybe this will help do an end-run around tablet makers like Asus who seem to be incapable of making ICS work reliably on their tablets.

Love my Transformer, I really do...but ICS has been an all-out disaster on this tablet between the random crashes, the tablet getting stuck in "boot loops," the screen randomly coming on for no reason and the infamous ASUS boot logo freeze that makes the tablet get very hot.

Maybe a Goog branded tablet can get it right?

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Re: Well...

The Xoom *is* supposed to be a "Google Experience" device just like the Nexus, and they still can't get ICS on that either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well...

Something wrong with yours?

Mine is behaving perfectly with ICS. Perhaps you are using one of them dodgy rooted hacked XDA roms, so it's not really Asus's problem...

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: Well...

MZ601 xoom (UK 3G) turned out NOT to be a GED, much to the frustration of those who bought one. US spec are GED but all the various rest-of-word models = fail. Not something they made public until it had been on sale for 2-3 months, which is why I'm now off Moto for life.

Quite why Moto fragmented the radio specs to the point where a universal rollout was impossible? Who knows. 601 doesn't currently appear on the ICS roadmap either, which is pretty poor.

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Pint

Re: Well...

Think the reply was meant for the other post? Simple mistake. Friday? Think you need a pint, or a relaxing herbal brew. :P

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Re: Well...

Just gone and bought one this Sunday, the quad core wifi variety since my phone can act as the access point. Stuffed it in the backpack with an external battery plugged into it and did the upgrade to ICS while biking home.

Damn this thing's speedy. T'ain't crashed yet though, or had any kind of glitchy moment that's any worse than an iSomething. Even a friend who really loves to play his iThings up and tell me how his ePeen is bigger than mine (or words to that effect) seems to be grudgingly impressed. "Bloody should be good for £500" is high praise indeed!

It really, really needs to not automatically put icons for installed apps on the home screens though. I did a sync and it started downloading every single app, paid or free, that I have ever downloaded on that account, even apps that I took a look at and uninstalled ages ago. Opening the thing to see boatloads of crap all over the previously pristine home screens and the system plaintively complaining that there is "no more room on the home screen" for the incoming apps was a bit annoying. There's a big list of apps already available, why do I need shortcuts to all of them?

Relatedly, Google need to sort out a way of telling the Market "I don't want this app, and I don't want it automatically reinstalling itself!"

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Go

Cheap Android Tablet

If your looking for a cheap android tablet I'd suggest this:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/NATPC-M009S-Capacitive-SANDWICH-Responsive/dp/B006M07X34/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1333120192&sr=8-3

It's not up to Galaxy Tab / iPad performance but for the money I think it's bloody brilliant, you can copy pictures straight to it's SD card too without having to be "cloudy"...

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Even though I have been in the Android camp consistently since Eclair and have had an Asus Transformer since last summer, I have to concede that the iPad *at the moment* is the better alternative.

Two simple reasons are a) graphics which currently smoke what is out on the market and b) flash; since adobe killed it off it left android's main counter-argument bereft of substance. Flash video sites bit the bullet and produced an app for their wares on iPad. On android you either have to use the hopelessly buggy ICS flash player or nothing. And while everyone evangelizes about HTML5, I've yet to see it perform well on nvidia's tegras.

Lets face it, for a brand that made its name on graphics and gpu's (nvidia) the tegras are hopelessly inadequate graphics-wise.

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Stop

China?

"According to the report, Google will start producing tablets once the $12.5bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings is cleared by the Chinese authorities - the deal has been approved in the US sand Europe."

I'm not saying I'm fully aware of the commercial details but I reckon that's the first time I've seen reference to a deal approved by the US and EU but waiting for approval by China.

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Can Google do it?

Apple sell millions of iPads with great margins. Can Google beat that?

Sent from my basic Archos70. A 7" tablet with 250Gb. Beat that Tim.

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Re: Can Google do it?

It's about software as well as hardware.

Tim already has the Archos beat all ends up.

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Pint

Done right, this move could work. I never bought into Android tablets for same reason most do not and the same reason that the price drops have moved HP and RIM tablets. PRICE. Few are willing to pay an Apple Price for a non-Apple product, no matter the hardware spec. A Google branded tablet at a Kindle Fire price that has full functionality is more likely to sell than current Android Tablets. I bought an iPad 2 due to the price drop. While I could've gotten an Android Tablet for the same $399, that wouldn't have met my needs. Hope Google works it out. Microsoft is indeed coming with Windows 8 Tablets and looking to eat Android's lunch

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Anonymous Coward

Focus ?

I think Google needs to remember its roots, and focus its business where it made its fortune, in the search business, where ad free searches or even unobtrusive ads in the results were key to success.

All this branching into other areas, means it will do a lot of things badly, instead of doing one thing correctly.

My 2 pence and all that...

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Good Idea!

Le us say I am a tablet producer and my products use Android, just how long do you think I will continue using Android after Google starts competing with me. Android is a fine operating system, in some ways better than iOS but crappy business practice will kill the system just as sure as a lack of apps would. I carry water for no man's OS, but Apple's is pretty damn good.

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