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Hugo Barra: where are the Android tablets of HTCOne-like quality?

Hugo Barra, the director of Android at Google, talked about what he looks for in Android tablets, and mentioned the HTCOne as an example of “pristine” quality that tablet manufacturers should strive to offer.
July 29, 2013
Nexus 7

The situation of Android tablets is improving fast, but there’s still a lot of work to be done for Google and its hardware partners. That’s the gist of a conversation that folks at The Verge had with Hugo Barra, the VP of Product Management for Android.

When talking about the problems that beset the Google-powered tablets (70 million have been activated at the last official count), Barra acknowledged that the situation with apps is still not perfect, though it improved dramatically in the last year or so:

[quote qtext=”The absolute position that we’re in is one where well over 60 percent of the apps that you’d expect in a given category are already available with a decent tablet UI” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

Over the past year or so, Google launched several initiatives to encourage developers to create tablet-optimized applications including a dedicated section for tablet apps in the Play Store and design guidelines for creating good Android tablet apps.

Another major area where the Android camp needs to step up its game is hardware, design, and build quality. Hugo Barra wants to see an Android tablet that is as “pristine” as HTC’s much lauded One smartphone:

[quote qtext=”If you look at the execution that HTCdid on the One smartphone, it’s pristine, {…} Why hasn’t someone done that on the tablet? Or on like ten tablets?” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

The Android director goes on to offer one possible reason behind the dearth of HTCOne-quality Android tablets – price. When designing the Nexus 7, Google and Asus were limited by the need to keep its price around $200. Barra argues that manufacturers could offer a pristine Android tablet in the $300-$400 price range:

[quote qtext=”I think we are perhaps coming close to it, but this is a $200 device, {…} If you were to price it at $300 or $400 you could do something a little bit more in that territory in terms of polish and finish and materials and so on. Why hasn’t that happened yet?” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

The Google executive even seems to allude that such a high-quality Android tablet in the $300-$400 price range will be coming in the future, and that, while the Android ecosystem has been “lagging behind a little bit”, the situation is improving. It’s hard to tell if Hugo Barra was referring to the new Nexus 10 that Android chief Sundar Pichai recently talked about, or a totally new product.

The perspective of a Nexus 7-like user experience in a more polished (and more expensive) package is surely intriguing. On the other hand, lest we forget that the low price allowed the original Nexus 7 and many other Android tablets to steal market share from the iPad.

Would you buy a “high-end Nexus 7” for, say, $350?