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Google unveiled the Nexus 7, its long-awaited foray into the burgeoning tablet market, at Google I/O last month. The combination of hardware, design, and price took many by surprise, with all three of these components being about the best we could have hoped for from such a device at this time.
The reviews from people testing the Nexus 7 for an extended period have been almost unanimously positive. However, while many have rightly compared the Nexus 7 to the Kindle Fire, and stated that Google’s effort blows Amazon’s out of the water, few would even mention the Nexus 7 in the same breath as the Apple iPad. I disagree with this inherent refusal to put the two on a par.
I believe the Nexus 7 is competition for the iPad and I feel competition to Apple’s stranglehold on the tablet market is exactly what’s needed at this juncture.
The iPad Vs. Everything Else
To understand how the Nexus 7 will prove to be competition for the iPad we first need to understand Apple’s offering. The new iPad, as unveiled in March is a 10-inch tablet boasting a Retina Display, front- and rear-facing cameras, and a new quad-core CPU. It’s very pleasing on the eye and, by all accounts, is a joy to use.
Even I, the person who wrote an article entitled ‘5 Reasons The New iPad Sucks‘ appreciate that it’s probably the best tablet on the market right now. There are some premium Android tablets on the market (such as the Transformer Prime) that are very close, but Apple’s tablet is the most likely to please those who purchase it. That’s why it has sold in the quantities it has, while the competition has invariably struggled.
The Google Nexus 7
Entering stage left is the Nexus 7, manufactured by Asus but with Google’s stamp all over it, figuratively and literally. The Nexus 7 boasts a 7-inch IPS display with 216 ppi (pixels-per-inch) made of Corning glass, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, a front-facing camera, GPS, Bluetooth, and NFC, and battery life of around 8 hours. It also comes with stock Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), meaning no bloatware or ugly overlay to deal with.
The Nexus 7 is available in two flavors – an 8GB version costing $199 and a 16GB version costing $249. These price points compare favorably with Apple’s current options – the new iPad at $499, the iPad 2 at $399 – and is on a par with the Kindle Fire, which costs $199 at the time of writing. In terms of quality there is a gulf between the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 though.
The Best Of Both Worlds
The Nexus 7 offers the best of both worlds. It has a quality display that will be more than enough for most people, the processor is phenomenal, the RAM very capable, and the 7-inch form factor is proving to be increasingly popular. Steve Jobs may have hated it but there’s a strong chance Apple will be launching its own mini-iPad at some point over the next few months with Tim Cook installed as CEO.
It also offers stock Android, which many people will prefer to iOS for various reasons, and also prefer to Amazon’s overburdened overlay. Android has been vastly improved as an operating system for tablets too, which is probably the reason Google waited until now before bringing the Nexus name to the tablet market.
Creation Vs. Consumption
The big question is whether the Nexus 7 will be used just for the consumption of content or if it will allow for the creation of content as well. The Kindle Fire was built to fulfill the first, with Amazon using its overlay to channel everything through its own storefront. This is how the online retailer keeps its costs down – offering the hardware on the cheap and making the money from sales of music, movies, and more down the line. The iPad can be used in either capacity, with people increasingly using the iPad to create as well as consume.
For the Nexus 7 to compete on a level playing field with Apple’s tablet it needs to be capable of being used in a productive fashion. The 7-inch screen won’t be as comfortable to write on as the 10-inch screen of the iPad, but I’ve managed perfectly well taking notes on my cheap Android tablet that I cannot see this being a problem.
It’s important to note that the iPad isn’t the best tool for the job either – with a physical keyboard always winning out over a touchscreen – but it’s often the closest to hand. The Nexus 7, with its pocket-friendly size, will be even closer to hand, and on more occasions.
Ring Tablet To Rule Them All
From previous articles I have written some may have formed the impression I’m a Windows and/or Android fanboy (delete as applicable), or at the very least an anti-Apple zealot. This isn’t the case at all. I like good technology that is priced fairly.
I’m not a particular fan of Apple’s closed system or its need to control every aspect of its products, and the price tags Apple assigns to everything it sells are extraordinary (a laptop costing $2,199, I ask you!). But my ultimate desire is for one thing and one thing alone – competition.
It’s this that drives innovation and stops the big tech firms falling into a pattern of offering lazy incremental upgrades on an annual basis. Right now Apple is in just that position, dominating the tablet market so fully that it can do the bare minimum each year to stay on top. Having one tablet to rule them all isn’t good for anyone, including Apple. Which is why we all need the Nexus 7 to succeed.
To sum up I firmly believe Google’s first branded tablet will provide healthy competition for the iPad, for the following reasons:-
- The price brings the Nexus 7 into ‘impulse buy’ range.
- The 7-inch form factor will appeal to a wider demographic.
- The hardware bridges the gap between consumption and creation.
- Android has come of age against an increasingly tired-looking iOS.
All of these reasons count, and all will contribute to the Nexus 7 eating into sales of the iPad, despite what those who regard the Apple tablet as untouchable may believe. Whether you agree or disagree please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Opinion is free, discussion is good, debate is healthy.
Image Credit: bandita