Saturday, June 30, 2012

Google IO 2012: After the High

So now that Google IO is done this year, I want to take the opportunity to look back on it after the high they gave us has warn off. Was everything they said and announced really as good as they made us think?

Well, some things yes. Others, not so much. There are some blaring deficiencies that should be noted. We'll get there when we get there though, lets start with Jelly Bean. In all honesty, every thing there is what we expected and hoped for. It is faster, smoother, and has some new features to boot! Google Now has already proven to be more accurate and helpful than Siri, but it will have to watch out for the Apple Patent-Hammer to come down on it as it has just recently come down on Samsung.

Let's move to probably the most anticipated part of the week, the Nexus 7. A $200 tablet that has specs to back it up. It blows the Kindle out of the water. Something interesting to note here though, is that with this tablet and unlike Jelly Bean, their primary competitor was not Apple. In fact, they look to have completely ignored Apple and have went after Amazon. A smart move in their case since Google makes next to nothing on the Kindle Fire, a completely Amazon-based ecosystem.

But looking at this, has Google temporarily ceded to Apple in the tablet market? Android has been after the iPad's market share for nearly 2 years now. It looks like Google has decided to be content on the overall tablet market share, and work on its own internal, Android market share. While this is cause for celebration with consumers, a $200 fully qualified tablet, this means something completely different for manufacturers.

Google has to either be taking a loss, or at the least breaking even on these tablets. This is okay though, because Google makes 30% on every app purchase you make as well as a percentage of every other sale on the Google Play market. Manufacturers though, can't do this. When they take a loss, they take a loss. And now that Google is able to make a tablet half the price of their tablets, what is the incentive for them to continue making them? This could be the spark that will turn manufacturers to Windows 8 instead. Yes Microsoft is making a tablet, but it will most likely be in a competitive range that will be easy to undercut by removing features. You can't really undercut $200.

So is this a cause for celebration with us consumers? It means cheaper tablets for us so yay! But it could  also see manufacturers jumping ship to Windows for future software solutions. This will just mean that we will revert to the old market shares of the PC era. Windows dominating the market while others fight for 2nd place (assuming that the same happens to the iPad that happened to the Mac back in the old days when competing against the licensable Windows that is).

Item number 3! The Nexus Q!

Ok first, what even is this device? I've been having a hard time trying to describe this to friends and family, especially if they are even a tiny bit knowledgable about Google's current offerings. Google goes and gets you all excited for this device, showcasing it's streaming, pushing, and beauty. Then, they quickly drop the price on us, $300! When trying to tell friends, all they ask is "What's so different about this and Google TV!?" and all I can answer is "I don't know! But this one is $300!". That usually gets me a few looks... 

But this brings up the two big flaws of the Nexus Q. Its price, and the fact that it is in direct competition with all current Google TV offerings. Again, Google is doing more damage to it's supportive hardware manufacturers than it is doing good. Vizio just announced an array of beautiful hardware devices, one being a Google TV set-top box for only $100!

Luckily (or unfortunately depending on how loyal you are to Google products), I can't see this one getting many sales. It is a nice product, a beautiful one in fact. And the price is justified because of it's US manufacturing origin. Except Google isn't even up-playing that. With all the drama around Apple and Foxconn, you would think Google would be like, "Hey, we made this here. All of it. We gave you jobs!". But the fact remains, it is a $300 device that is really just a software upgrade above Google TV and Apple TV. Yeah it has the analog audio outputs, but Apple has AirPlay. This is not a equivalent replacement for Apple's offerings.

In a trend set by the likes of Sergey Brin and Kanye West, "Nexus Q, you're cool and all, but Apple/Google TV's are still the best". Was it all just hype? Sorry, but I think so. All of it's features can be implemented in software updates in cheaper hardware that is already widespread through our technology ecosystems.

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