Google isn’t talking, but there doesn’t seem to be much doubt the company plans to unveil its own branded tablet in the next few months, according to a slew of media reports, including TabTimes.
With its insider's knowledge of Android’s inner workings and direction and a boatload of money to spend, you’d expect Google to create to a slick, state-of-the-art tablet, perhaps the first to fully exploit Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or even the newer “Jelly Bean” version that’s still in development.
If so, such a device could be seen as a competitive threat to other Android tablet makers Google depends on to grow the market. But analyst Jack Gold, in a report to clients released earlier today, says a great Google-branded tablet is just what the market needs and should be welcomed by the Android community, including tablet vendors.
“We’ve seen Google go through this before with the Nexus phone and it worked,” said Gold, principal analyst of J.Gold Associates, in an interview with TabTimes. “The idea is to gather the market around a point of gravity and that’s what the tablet market needs. If you look at what’s out there now, there’s one of everything for the different versions of Android and it’s a mess.”
A recent Wall Street Journal story said Google will sell tablets through a new online store (just as it once sold the Nexus smartphone) that will include devices from a range of vendors.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Google creates a kind of one-stop-shop for Android tablets, but I hope it would include one of their own,” said Gold.
He thinks Google needs to borrow a page from Apple and bring more consistency to what consumers expect from an Android tablet.
“What kills markets is consumers not knowing what the hell’s going on,” says Gold. “It’s very easy for a consumer not to make a choice, but that’s the last thing you want. If Google wants to do the market a service what they should really do is figure out how they can consolidate the Android market and make things work better.”
Gold says he expects Google would be thrilled if it’s able to establish a higher bar for tablet makers to focus their development efforts on, even if it means they produce devices that outsell a Google-branded tablet.
In a note to clients, Gold listed four areas a Google-branded tablet could improve the state of Android tablets.
De-Fragmentation of Android
By establishing a reference design other tablet vendors would have to move to in order to be competitive.
Force OS version upgrades
If the Google tablet is successful it will encourage more upgrades to the newest version of Android and eliminate or at least minimize the need and resources required to support the many older versions
Increase the Android tablet installed base
Android tablets are a distant second to the iPad and Windows 8 tablets are coming later this year. Gold reasons that a great Google tablet could stimulate overall market demand for Android tablets.
Anything Google does to reduce Android fragmentation will help ensure apps run on most if not all Android tablets, which is not the case today.