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Google Nexus 7 – not so awesome across the seas due to lack of digital content?

July 4, 2012

The Google Nexus 7 is one of the best Android tablets of the year and definitely a tough adversary for this year’s Kindle Fire versions. At the same time, the device is not an iPad-killer, it’s not even intended to be one, and, moreover, it may do a lot more harm within the Android tablet ecosystems, as other OEMs will not be able to replicate Google’s current tablet strategy.

The Nexus 7 is an affordable device that packs quite a punch under the hood and is able to offer users access to Google’s latest operating system, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, right out of the box. At the same time, it’s ready to deliver the same tablet performance that Apple’s and Amazon’s tablets offer to consumers. We’re looking at a device whose maker – forgetting for a second that it’s Asus that actually built it – controls the hardware, software, and, equally important, the content stores.

Google’s own Andy Rubin affirmed more than once in the recent past that Android tablet sales have not met expectations but that the company has learned from its mistakes.

While working on the Nexus 7, Google rebranded the Android Market to Google Play, and turned it into a place where Android users would be able to purchase not only apps but also other content forms such as music, books, magazines, movies and TV shows. Not to mention that some Google devices, Nexus-branded ones, are also available from the same online store. That’s great news for Android fans, but not for all of them.

In fact, it appears that even though Google is interested in bringing the Google Nexus 7 to more international markets, it won’t be able to offer users the same Nexus 7 experience that U.S.-based buyers will enjoy. The Inquirer has confirmed that the UK version of the Nexus 7 will not have access to TV shows, music and magazines, and the lack of such digital content may make the device a less interesting gadget for some potential buyers, no matter how cheap it is. The publication notes:

Speaking with The Inquirer, a Google spokesperson confirmed that the Nexus 7 won’t feature these three categories, which will remain an exclusive in US for the time being. They said, “The UK version will feature all of the options currently available in the UK Play store”, which means users of the Nexus 7 will be limited in their choices movies, apps, games and books.
Adding further confirmation of this is Google’s UK pre-order page, which doesn’t mention the company’s recently launched magazine or music library features. However, in a move that will no doubt irk buyers, the pre-order page links to the official Nexus 7 homepage, which boasts that the tablet features “the world’s largest collection of eBooks, millions of songs, thousands of movies and TV shows, and a growing selection of magazines.”

Of course, on the other hand we do remember those HP TouchPad firesales, don’t we? That device sold like hot cakes even though HP wasn’t going to provide webOS updates and support.

At the same time, we’ll notice that Google is ready to boldly go where Amazon made sure it stayed away from. The Kindle Fire was a U.S. best-selling device because that’s where Amazon can offer plenty of digital content to buyers, and thus it can hope to make some cash from people that buy a cheap device – otherwise unprofitable if sold alone. The electronics retailer can’t offer the same services in other regions of the world, even though the word on the street is that Amazon is currently seeking to ink licensing deals that would help it bring future Kindle Fire devices to other regions.

So why is Google doing it? Simply put, the company is trying to steal market share – prevent customers from buying a Kindle Fire or a cheap iPad Mini – while working on similar licensing deals that would help it eventually offer the same kind of Google Play content to international users. We have no idea when that will happen, or how long it would take for Google to achieve it, but you won’t be able to blame Google for trying to sell as many Nexus 7 units as possible, in as many markets as possible, by the time other 7-inch devices come along.

However, international Nexus 7 sales may be a lose-lose-lose deal at first. First off, the customers are somewhat losing by not being able to access all the content they were hoping to get, although they’ll probably have plenty of fun with the device. More importantly, Google would be losing as well, as it wouldn’t be able to make the same amount of cash from content purchases from these consumers. And thirdly, other Android device makers, which can’t afford to lower the prices of their tablets too much, as they can’t make money from content sales – like Apple, Amazon and Google – would also be losing,

In time, when Google is ready to make all Google Play offerings available in more international markets, the situation may turn into a win-win-lose kind of deal. At the end of the day, locking customers into buying Nexus-branded tablets may turn out to be a very bad deal for other Android tablet makers.

Things get even more complex once the Kindle Fire 2 launches in international markets, should that happen later this year especially in case Amazon will come out with a strong Nexus 7 rival. Not to mention that an iPad Mini, that would have access to everything to plenty of content from the App Store, iTunes music and movie store and the iBookstore, would be a tough adversary for tablet buyers who buy such a device not just for surfing the web and using apps but also for streaming movies, listening to music, reading magazines and books and following their favorite TV shows.

Leaving speculations aside, we’ll remind you that international Android users have a workaround that will let them enjoy all the digital offerings from the U.S. Google Play store on their Nexus 7 tablets, but it’s not exactly legal and Google may soon find a way disable it – not that we encourage you to pursue such endeavors anyway.

Since the tag line of the tablet is pretty suggestive – “Nexus 7, made for Google Play” – we’re interested to know whether there are any international Android fans discouraged from buying the Nexus 7 due to lack of content. Or is the low price of the device a good enough reason to get it as soon as humanly possible?