The last week of October has been a big one for the gadgets industry. All the big three names – Apple, Google and Microsoft – made announcements and released products. While Apple released a 7.9inch tablet to compete with Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Fire HD, Google went and released a 10 inch tablet to compete directly with the bigger iPad. Microsoft released its Surface RT tablets, which marks its first foray into the tablet market as a hardware manufacturer, and released Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 (WP8), along with some devices that showcases its new operating system.
Now that the dust has settled, how will the market react to these major changes? In particular, how will the smaller iPad fare against Nexus 7, and will the Nexus 10 and Surface RT be able to dent Apple’s lead in the tablet market?
While we will not know for sure until the sales figures come in, here are a few pointers. Nexus 7 has been selling well. Really well. Asus recently revealed that Nexus 7 sales were approaching a million a month. If that is true then that is a significant dent in Apple’s sales. We do not know the exact figures for Kindle Fire sales, because Amazon does not releases them, but it can reasonably be assumed that it is doing well too.
A year ago, the iPad was the only really viable tablet, with offerings from rivals falling way behind on software, hardware and ecosystem. No wonder that they were failing terribly. But the year later the situation has changed drastically. Google’s releases after Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, have made it competitive on the software front. ICE brought design enhancements that gave Android the same refined look that users had come to expect from Apple. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean brought speed, smoothness, and Google Now, and Android 4.2 “the added flavour of Jelly Bean”, allows more than one user to log into the tablet.
Android is not just competitive, it is ahead of iOS. Nexus 7 launched with Jelly Bean, and it combined a great software with polished and good looking hardware. It was a fully specced tablet, which came at an incredible $200. No wonder then that the Nexus 7 has done quite well in the tablet space. The pace should pick up when the new Nexus 7s with double the memory and Android 4.2 – at the same price points – hit the stores.
Now with Nexus 10 , Google wants to repeat the success it had with Nexus 7. This too is a great looking device, with soft injection moulded, gun-metal styled plastic covering its back, and a gorgeous 2540x1600p screen covering its front. The pixel density is higher than retina. The innards are made of Cortex A15 1.7 ghz dual core Exynos SoC from Samsung, this is combined with 2GB of RAM. It has decent cameras, dual NFC, dual stereo speakers, and all of this will be packed in a frame that is thinner and lighter than the iPad.
It is also guaranteed to last long – Google is promising 9 hours of video playback and 500 hours of standby time – because it packs a massive 9000mAh battery. Despite all this, the price remains $100 less than the iPad.
The trade-off? It does not come with a contract, has no 64GB option and does not pack removable storage slot. Also, the app ecosystem on Android is weaker than for an iPad. It has less tablet optimized apps, though Android apps can scale dynamically to fit the screen size.
If the Nexus 7’s success is any indication, then indeed the Nexus 10 is poised to eat into iPad sales.