Google has officially entered the tablet wars and has taken dead aim at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in a seeming rebuke for mishandling its Android platform.
The Nexus 7, unveiled at this year’s Google IO developer conference, is a direct competitor to Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the B&N Nook. What makes it better for Google is that the unmodified Android interface directs users to the “Google experience.”
What makes it better for users is everything else.
Tablets are the newest gateway to the Internet, and the World Wide Web’s ecommerce titans are fighting for control over where these devices direct traffic via their applications and functionality. The best way to do this, though, is still the way it’s always been done in the consumer electronics industry: give customers a product that is cheaper than the competition that works better.
Critics are nearly unanimous in their agreement that Google has accomplished just that with the Nexus 7. It’s too early to comment on durability and bugs, of course, but the specs are impressive. The tablet runs on a Tegra 3 processor with 1GB of RAM and either 8GB or 16GB of data storage. The screen is the same size as the Fire’s and has a higher resolution … even though the whole unit remains lighter. And, there is even a front-facing camera for videoconferencing.
Google has partnered with Taiwanese manufacturer Asus to pull off the magical feat while still keeping the price below $200 for the 8GB model. That’s the same as the Fire and Nook for what everyone seems to agree is far more horsepower and style.
All that said, it’s important to note that Google’s first foray into battle was directed at Android OS users – not the iPad. The Nexus 7 doesn’t stand up to the iPad in many ways, but critics argue that it may be the better choice for people who use tablets for “regular” stuff like surfing the Web, playing games and checking email. In other words, if you’re not running your business off of it and are not an Apple OS worshiper then this may be the way to go, especially considering the smaller size and the price.
What brings it all together is the newest version of Android, known as Jelly Bean. It offers users the ability to multitask between apps and gives the tablet a better overall response rate. It also does well by targeting brand-new Android users by providing an easy instructional overlay that can be toggled off by experienced users.
Google may have left iPad off of its bombing grid for the moment, but after so easily dousing the Fire and putting the Nook in its place you can bet the Apple team is gearing up for Armageddon.