Looking back: How the Google Nexus 7 changed the tablet landscape
With Google I/O 2013 starting tomorrow, we have a lot to look forward to! We still aren’t exactly sure of what Google has in store for us, but among a slew of rumors and possibilities running rampant is speculation about a second edition of the Asus-made Nexus 7. If true, the new Nexus 7 will feature specifications that keep up with the times, while once again boasting a very reasonable price tag, which is really exciting.
Of course, the reason for this excitement is because of the great reception the Nexus 7 – the first Android tablet under the Nexus series – got when it was announced at the same event last year, becoming one of the best-selling Android tablets available since then. While not matching the sales numbers of the iPad, the Nexus 7 still managed to have a profound effect on the tablet market.
The Nexus 7 arrived at a time when Android tablet manufacturers were struggling to make an impact in a highly-competitive market, and showed other OEMs how it should have been done. Google wasn’t taking on the iPad with the Nexus 7, but did attempt to do so more directly with the Nexus 10 that was released by the end of 2012.
Before the Nexus 7, the most popular 7-inch Android tablets were the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and the Amazon Kindle Fire, and the latter was, in part, the motivation behind Google jumping into the tablet game. Suddenly, wanting to buy an Android tablet with more than decent specifications didn’t require you to fork over $500+, and while not without its flaws, the Nexus 7 became the go-to tablet for a lot of consumers.
With the possible arrival of the next Nexus 7 this week, we take a look at some of the reasons why the first-generation model managed to shake up the tablet landscape.
Specifications vs Cost
The rumors surrounding the release of the Nexus 7 last year meant that we knew almost exactly what to expect by the time the tablet was released. But unlike with other device leaks, the pre-launch confirmation of the Nexus 7specifications didn’t do anything to quell the excitement. Things got even better during the launch, with the announcement of the $199 and $249 price tags for a device with high-end specifications.
At the time, falling in the same price range was the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, which featured a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage for $249. Packing a 7-inch IPS display with 1280 x 800 resolution, 1.2Ghz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, and 1GB RAM, the price of the Nexus 7 was surprisingly low, and is obviously one of the many reasons the tablet was popular. Granted, compromises were made including the lack of a rear camera and microSD slot and the limited 8GB internal storage (the effectively 5.5GB space available to the user wasn’t nearly enough). But the last issue was corrected later that year, with the 8GB version being dropped, and the price of the 16GB version falling to $199. A 32GB version was also introduced.
With the arrival of the Nexus 7, you could now get your hands on an almost high-end tablet at a comparatively low price. The device completely shook up the tablet market, as far as the question of specifications vs cost was concerned.
The latest software
The biggest advantage with any Nexus device is the fact that you’ll always be the first to receive any software updates, with a gap sometimes as big as six months before non-Nexus smartphones and tablets catch up, and that is, of course, if OEM “support” isn’t discontinued. Of course, this (as well as the previous point) is true for all Nexus devices. But while Nexus smartphones were already around for a while, the Nexus 7 was the first tablet to provide this edge.
The Nexus 7 was launched with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on board, and also introduced Google Now. All subsequent minor and major (up to Android 4.2) updates were available immediately after they were announced. With that in mind, if the latest iteration of Android is announced this week, the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10 will be one of the first tablets to receive it (keeping in mind that the rumored new Nexus 7 will release with the latest version).
Android tablet (and smartphone) manufacturers have had a difficult time with timely updates for their devices, and with the Nexus 7, users could finally get their hands on a tablet that would always feature the latest Android software.