Looking back: How the Google Nexus 7 changed the tablet landscape
App developers join the party
One of the biggest complaints about Android in the past was the fact that there weren’t enough apps optimized for tablets on the Google Play Store. With the release, and subsequent popularity, of the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10 later in the year, that has slowly changed, with more and more developers now finding it worth their while to update their apps for the larger form factor.
While the situation is far from remedied, the Nexus 7 definitely led to this issue coming to the forefront. Following the release of the tablet, I remember a lot of apps featuring an update with the changelog including the words “optimized for the Nexus 7.” This wasn’t only to optimize the app for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but also to accommodate the larger display size. Google joining the tablet game led to the company finally taking an interest in tablet apps as well. Last year Google released an “Tablet app quality Checklist,” followed by an update to the Tablet App Guidelines And Screenshots, encouraging developers to not only optimize their apps for tablets, but also to build apps that are specific to tablets.
Tablets owners are always on the lookout for tablet-specific apps, and with the growing popularity of the Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Android tablets in general, quite a lot of developers have stepped up. Of course, until there’s a proper “Tablet apps” section on the Google Play Store, it’s still quite a difficult task to sort out which apps are best suited for your device. As a starting point, at least now there’s a “Featured apps for tablets” on the Google Play Store.
Let the competition begin
Google noticed that the 7-inch form factor could be a success if done right. The Amazon Kindle Fire was one of the best-selling tablets of 2011, and the 2012 follow up, the Kindle Fire HD, has been boasting impressive sales numbers as well. But, with the forked and closed Android version that the Kindle tablets are running, Google wasn’t making much out of the them. So, apart from offering a viable high-end alternative to consumers at the same price range, the Nexus 7 allowed Google to profit more directly from the Android tablet market as well.
The Nexus 7 also took on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, which was another very popular Android tablet at the time. While the Galaxy Tab 2 offered a rear camera and a microSD expansion slot, the processor and the display of the Nexus 7 were better, with both devices priced the same. Another obvious advantage the Nexus tablet had over its Samsung counterpart was the always updated software, which was something Samsung couldn’t do.
The pricing strategy used by Google was definitely surprising, and caused every Android tablet OEM to take notice. Granted, while Google can live with cutting the profit margins by a big amount, it isn’t entirely feasible for non-Nexus tablet manufacturers to do the same. Nevertheless, over the past year, we’ve seen a growing number of budget-friendly 7-inch tablets being released, all hoping to mimic, and even surpass, the success of the Nexus 7.
Surprisingly, one of the the companies that decided to make the first move was Acer with its Iconia A110 that featured mostly similar specifications to the Nexus 7’s, but packed a display with a lower resolution (1024 x 600) and microSD slot. $250 got you the 8GB version, which was further expandable via microSD up to 32GB, as opposed to the 32GB version of the Nexus 7.
Acer has since followed it up with the Iconia B1, which is priced at around $150 for the 16GB version. Granted, the specs don’t match up to the Nexus 7 or even the Iconia A110, but isn’t a complete slouch in that department, and is significantly cheaper. Also looking to take on the iPad Mini, Acer has also recently announced the Iconia A1, which features a MediaTek quad-core processor, and 7.9-inch display.
Asus didn’t want to be left behind either, even though it did manufacture the Nexus 7. Asus launched the MemoPad 7, which is a tablet along the lines of the Iconia B1, and is priced similarly, at $150. Falling in the Nexus 7 price range is the Asus FonePad, that was launched at MWC 2013. Priced at $250, the design of the FonePad is very similar to the Nexus 7, but the device is powered by a 1.2Ghz Intel processor and offers phone call and SMS messaging support.
Furthermore, there are a slew of low cost 7-inch and 8-inch tablets in the works, not to mention the numerous low-cost tablets available from unknown Chinese and Indian manufacturers. It’s a difficult choice to make when deciding between so many options, but I’d personally still pick the Nexus 7 over any of the above mentioned tablets. At that price, the Nexus 7 is practically unbeatable.
As you can see, the Nexus 7 played a big role in changing the Android tablet market. A low price didn’t mean compromising (too much) on high-end specifications. The tablet app ecosystem got the push it deserved, with developers finally getting a reason to develop specifically for tablets, and the competition is certainly heating up in the tablet arena.
The Nexus 7 won the Best Tablet award at this year’s Global Mobile Awards, and rightly so. It’s amazing to think that this is just the beginning. With the possible arrival of the second edition of the Nexus 7, we can only wonder how the latest release will impact the Android world.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that the Nexus 7 was a game changer? What are your expectations from the new Nexus 7?