It’s a card the search engine giant has played before, brining its own Google branded mobile device to market in hopes of creating space for the rest of the Android ecosystem to eek out some success. We saw it first with the Google Nexus phone–a device the company decided to manufacture, market, and support all on its own–and while it ruffled a few feathers among carriers and Android partners, it succeeded in creating market space for the likes of Samsung and HTC to create their own successful Android products, and we’re seeing it again with the company’s new Nexus 7 tablet.
But with the news that Google is taking pre-orders for its new seven-inch Nexus 7 tablet, analysts are curious to see how such a move will impact the search engine’s relationship with its wide array of Android partners, all of whom are working diligently to create their own successful tablets.
Given the fact that Google is now competing with the rest of the Android ecosystem through its recent acquisition of Motorola, will the news that the search engine giant itself is wading into the tablet market enough to send some partners packing, or will it achieve the desired effect of growing Android’s tablet presence?
By creating a seven inch tablet–one featuring a quad-core processor, Android v4.1 (dubbed Jelly Bean) and available with 8 GB or 16 GB of memory for $199 and $249 respectively–instead of a ten inch version, Google is clearly not looking to compete directly with Apple’s iPad, a feet that has spelled doom and misery for all who have tried. (As a brief aside, Samsung has been ordered by the court to cease selling its 10.1 inch Galaxy tablet, as it has been found to be a copy of Apple’s iPad).
Instead, Google is clearly looking to compete in a different segment of the tablet space, one where Amazon’s Kindle Fire currently reigns. But despite the fact that Google is hoping to open up space in the relatively new seven inch segment of the tablet market, the company certainly risks angering its loyal Android subjects, companies, might I add, Google needs to maintain its global Android dominance.
So is there really anything to worry about for Google’s bevy of Android partners? At this point I would certainly say ‘no.’ As we saw with the original Google Nexus smartphone, the company put the device to market, watched Android’s popularity skyrocket as a result, and then quietly but the phone to pasture and let its Android partners benefit from the momentum, and I have no reason to believe that Google will do anything differently with its Nexus 7 tablet.
In fact, even if the Nexus 7 does initially ruffle some feathers in the Android camp, as Telecoms & Media principal analyst David McQueen believes it will, having differentiated itself from Apple’s iPad by offering a seven inch model will likely allow Google to carve out a significant market share, spurring on Android’s market penetration and thus pulling the entire Android ecosystem along with it.
But in the end, even if Google’s Nexus 7 tablet is enough to incur the collective wrath of all its partners, who has the means to really do anything about it? As I’ve said before, Google has its partners, Samsung excluded, over a barrel; hopelessly dependent on a platform that has for the most part only brought middling success.