Who’s afraid of Google’s Nexus?

 

Rory Cellan-Jones tries out Google's Nexus 7

For a good while, if you wanted a tablet then the iPad was the only choice. Sure, there were plenty of Android devices, but none provided real competition. Now that's all changed. Some of the biggest beasts in technology - Microsoft, Amazon and now Google - believe they really can take on Apple and make headway.

And the product unveiled by Google at its developer conference certainly ups the stakes in this game. This morning I got a chance to have a look at the Nexus tablet, made for Google by Asus.

My first impression - and you can't tell too much in 10 minutes - is that it's a useful and capable device offering something that will be very familiar to owners of Android smartphones. Surfing the web, and in particular playing games should be pretty fast, thanks to the quad core processor.

The variety of apps you find for an iPad may not quite be there yet, but Google believes that access to a wide variety of books, films and music will make the Nexus an attractive choice for consumers.

What's really remarkable, however, is the price - which starts at £159. (How Google has managed to get it down to this price, and whether it's being subsidised to kickstart the tablet market are interesting questions.) Compare that to the cheapest iPad which is £329. Yes, that's a bigger and arguably more sophisticated device but you can see Google's device proving very attractive to large numbers of people who've been put off by the cost of tablets.

So who will be worried by the arrival of the Nexus? Apple may feel fairly relaxed about the device itself as it appears to be competing in a different market to the iPad. But it will be concerned about Google's move into content - films, music, books - which could make the whole Android ecosystem look more attractive than the iWorld of Apple.

Microsoft will be concerned that Google has got to the market months before the Surface devices which it unveiled last week. But again, the company will feel that it's targeting a different kind of markets, the enterprise customers who've fought shy of tablets so far.

At one small business this week - my excellent local optician - I learned that the owner plans to replace all his PCs with Surface tablets when they come out. Why not go straight to iPads, I wondered - only to learn that just about every ophthalmic application was Windows-based.

But it is Amazon that may be examining this new rival with some concern. The Kindle Fire - a very similar touchscreen tablet but without a quadcore processor - sells for roughly the same price in the United States as the Nexus, and has proved pretty popular. But more than six months after its release it still hasn't reached markets outside the US and Canada, despite great interest from consumers. In the UK, where the Nexus will be available right away, it seems likely that anyone who wanted a Kindle Fire will now give their money to Google instead.

Still, the real answer to who will worry about the Nexus may be nobody. Just two years after the arrival of the iPad the computing world has decided that we are moving away from the keyboard and mouse and into the new world of touchscreen, voice-activated devices. If that is true, there should be room for everybody.

 
Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 32.

    I think a 10in device would definitely be a contender to rival the iPad now that Google have put more thought into integrating it with their ecosystem. Plus, updates straight from Google so no waiting six months or worse!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 31.

    Interesting to hear RCJ use words like tablets, quad core and browser. Wonder if knows what any of them mean?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 30.

    Rory, there is presenting a story in a certain way to ensure your audience understands and there is presenting a story in a certain way because you doesn't understand. You, I am afraid, seem to fall into the latter camp.

    Reading your article is like listening to one of my ill-informed colleagues rabbit on about an article they read on this "Google iPad thing what's coming out"

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 29.

    @Wyatt if you thought I was a persistent troll then I would be fine with you filtering me out. I get your "joke" but it's one that stopped being funny a long time ago.

    Back on topic, this blog is about who might be afraid of Nexus, don't you think that, er, Apple might get a mention?? I for one would be interested in getting one because it's so cheap so that would be one less sale for Apple.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 28.

    @27 Wee_Fred
    This is correct. There is not much substance to the reporting and no real mention of the new features. Had this been the iPad the review would have been exhaustive!
    For others... I've had ICS on my SGS1 for 2 months now... so you don't HAVE to stick with slow upgrades! You just need to source it for yourself!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 27.

    23 Gil

    Rory admits himself in the article that this device isn't competing with the ipad and it's not a story about the ipad.. so why is half the article about the ipad? Wouldn't he of been better writing about the features in Jelly Bean? Revamped search, Google Now, new notifications, project Butter, updated camera app - I don't see any of this mentioned.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 26.

    "A-SOOSS!" Bless you Rory. Seems you have a little summer cold coming on. It's only those silly Americans who pronounce it a-SOOSS. As one of the company's top people pointed out, it's AY-suss. Say it three times: AY-suss AY-suss AY-suss. There, you see? That nasty old cold is on it's way out already.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 25.

    Rory is and always will be an Apple fan, and he clearly doesnt know how to use an Android device. If you are going to report on something, learn about it first. The Nexus tablet, will be the entry point for Android tablets for anyone who is confused by the sheer amount out there. They are mostly a lot of rubbish, but this is not.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 24.

    23.Gil

    I was making a joke, which sought to point out the theme of Rory's reports, which often include Apple and are often very subjective in nature. No conspiracy theory, no anti-Apple tirade, just a simple point of fact. Your comments, on the other hand, just seek to insult, and add nothing of value to the report... which makes you a troll, does it not?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 23.

    @Wee_Fred @Wyatt

    Come on BBC give us a filter so I don't have to read comments from trolls such as these two guys and their whiny conspiracy theories. Stick a clickable third graphic next to the up and down arrows and voila they are invisible for evermore!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 22.

    @19 You cannot blame Google for the ICS upgrade only now getting to your phone. The manufacturers like to bloat the code with their own in-house rubbish (Sense = HTC, Touchwiz = Samsung, etc). If left alone, Android is a quick, smooth OS. I'm more than interested in the Nexus, as when I had the chance to test the iPad, I found it to be quite limiting.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 21.

    Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean... whatever next? It conjures up images of stereotypical overweight American computer geeks sitting at their desks 24/7, can of coke on one side, unsavoury snack on the other, tapping away at their keyboard creating ever more software bugs because they haven't slept for a week.

    Tablets are gadgets for poseurs. Far more sensible to buy a laptop or netbook.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 20.

    Good work Rory, that should secure you another free iPad. I like to think of you diving into a big pool of them like Scrooge McDuck, just as you sign off on another great 'technology' report. keep up the good work.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 19.

    The shortest answer is that Google's OEMs are most likely to be afraid.

    It's only three weeks since my phone got upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich and now they've announced Jelly Bean. The one thing that OEMs fear most is their supplier competing with them, and if Google roll out new versions carelessly like this, that's exactly what they'll be doing.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 18.

    This is a really smart move by Google, introducing a Premium product at a Budget price point. £160 with £15 to spend on content is brilliant value. There really is no need for Mum, Dad, Gran or Grandad to lay down the best part of £500 any more.

    It's a shame Rory produced such a poor piece here - BBC Click did a much, much better job of introducing the product and giving a useful perspective.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 17.

    14. VR59
    You're absolutely right. But the tablet wasn't ever designed to do the same tasks as desktops/laptops: Apple realised that 80% of computer owners were not using the full potential of their device because they didn't actually require it. They're consumers, not creators. So they gave them a machine that does only what they want. And the uptake proves it.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 16.

    What the Nexus 7 has that the iPad doesn't is a killer price tag and for those consumers who want a truly portable tablet this will be the device for them.

    However, it will be very interesting to see if Apple do a major U-turn and bring out a 7 inch iPad especially after Jobs was so dismissive of the idea when he was alive.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 15.

    Reactionary manoeuvre from Google who lets face it are all about cash from content and advertising clicks. Android could seriously dominate the entire mobile OS space but have one perfect flaw. Control. They do not have overall control of distribution and build. If they could reign that in then Microsoft are dust and Apple will struggle to maintain IOS as a contender within the space.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 14.

    Tablet manufacturers can put as much spin on them as they want but they're simply not capable of replacing a desktop pc at the moment. Try using a tablet (Samsung, Asus, Apple etc) for anything serious and you'll see what I mean.

    I have a desktop pc, a laptop and a tablet. The desktop wins for doing serious work. The laptop for work on the go and the tablet for trivia eg browsing over a coffee.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 13.

    People here are right this is designed more as a competitor to the Kindle Fire than the iPad. However, it is a competitor for iOS. Google identified there is plenty of demand for a quality low cost tablet (as did Amazon) hence the Nexus. Selling this at break even makes sense as there is plenty of money to be made in content plus the obvious benefit increasing Android's market share over Apple.

 

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