Google Has Failed With Tablets


I've written a lot about the new iPad Pro and Surface Pro in the last few weeks, comparing and contrasting the different products and their paths in their respective parent's evolutionary path. What I haven't included in that discussion is Android.

There's a good reason for that: Google hasn't managed to get its collective head around how tablets should work, why people buy them and how to persuade developers to rebuild apps to work on a bigger screen.

Samsung has done a good job of working around those limitations in the past, but the limitations remain nonetheless. And in truth the best size for an Android tablet is 8" because at that size blown up Android phone apps remain viable.

The latest round of Android tablets from Samsung adds stylus support (yay!) and throws out the 8" model completely (boo!)

In terms of hardware the Galaxy Tab S3 is close to the iPad Pro in many areas. In terms of software, well let's just say it isn't. 

Yet Samsung has priced the Tab S3 to match the iPad and it's a weight it just can't carry. Yes it includes the keyboard and stylus in its price tag but it needs broad app support to be of value to more than a small percentage of buyers.

Android tablet buyers tend to be looking for very basic features from their tablet - the ability to browse, play some games, perhaps listen to some music. Cheaper Android tablets achieve this just as well as the Tab S3. Cheap tablets make up the bulk of Android tablet sales.

It is perhaps for this reason Samsung has started building Windows tablets again and last year's TabPro S - which had many flaws - has been replaced by the much improved Galaxy Book, in two sizes to closely match the iPad Pro.

Whether Google will take this reversal and use it to consolidate everything around Chrome OS remains to be seen. Its inability to solve its tablet problems suggest we'll be waiting a while before seeing tablet features added to Android and when they are there probably won't be many high end users left to enjoy them.

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