From the very beginning of Android's (serious) days in the tablet realm, many have questioned whether it has the capacity to dominate the tablet market in a similar way it has consumed the smartphone realm. The prediction from RBC was that Android will not dominate the $70 billion tablet market until 2014.
The Motorola XOOM was the first serious Android tablet that could compete with Apple's ever-popular iPad. It was launched prematurely and was riddled with bugs and glitches; it also came with some non-functioning components like the LTE SIM slot (it ships without an LTE radio inside) and microSD card slot. The XOOM was also overpriced and was originally launched in one flavor, not giving buyers a choice in price point.
As updates come and the device inches towards its LTE upgrade, the road does not look to be getting any smoother for the XOOM. For instance, the Android 3.1 update that is spottily popping up on XOOMs all around brings, among many other features, movie rentals. However, the WiFi-only version will not get rentals right away. Go figure.
A Facebook status update from Motorola Canada also claims that our brothers and sisters up north will get SD card support “soon.” Unsurprisingly, there has not been any word on SD support for any other users. Even though the XOOM really isn't a bad device at all, I don't think Motorola could have botched this device and its launch any worse. Then again...
Basing RBC's estimate on Android's current sales performance and rocky start in the tablet space, it seems fairly accurate. It may even make 2014 sound like a far-fetched idea. But we're about to enter the summer months and a handful of manufacturers are putting the finishing touches on their own tablets, prepping them for retail shelves. I have a feeling that things are about to change.
Just last week at Google's I/O 2011 conference in San Fran, attendees were given a limited edition of Samsung's yet-to-be-officially-released Galaxy Tab 10.1. It comes with a mostly-stock version of Android (it has some TouchWiz UX components like the camera and keyboard). According to TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid (as I haven't had the pleasure of getting my hands on one yet), even though it and the XOOM are very similar in specifications, it is a much lighter and more user-friendly tablet. It feels more natural in the hand and is more pleasing to use.
That is only one opinion, but the general consensus seems to be that the 10.1 is one beauty of a tablet. From one end of the tech world to the other, all I have heard is good things and praises of Samsung's latest Tab. But that's not all. The ASUS Transformer has also received a lot of praise. It carries similar specifications as these other high-end tablets for a low price of $400, or $500 if you want the larger capacity. The HTC Flyer is just around the corner as well. It, too, has acquired quite a bit of recognition with its unique Scribe technology.
Tablets had an unmistakable presence at Google's conference – and every other conference, for that matter – this year. And ol' Goog will only begin to push the tablet-based platform harder as more manufacturers take to uncharted grounds.
Maybe I'm not seeing the big picture here. But what I am seeing is tablets in all shapes and sizes with a wide array of prices on the horizon – exactly what everyone asked for. I'm inclined to agree with Kincaid, who suggests we will see a surge of Android growth in the next month or so. That is, if people can look beyond the negative spin that was birthed with the launch of the XOOM.
What say you? Do any of the upcoming Android tablets pique your interests? Or is it the iPad, TouchPad, or PlayBook for you?
Image via AndroidHD