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Android tablets without apps

Android is an open platform. We saw at IFA 2010 all sorts of devices running Android, so it already running on tablets. But the way Android Market works is it’s not going to be available on devices that don’t allow applications to run correctly. Which devices do, and which don’t will be unit specific, but Froyo is not optimised for use on tablets. If you want Android market on that platform, the apps just wouldn’t run, [Froyo] is just not designed for that form factor.

via Google’s Hugo Barra: Android 2.2 ‘not optimized for tablets’ – Google 24/7 – Fortune Tech.

How appealing are tablets that don’t run any apps? Or content?

It still amazes me that a Google exec would say that it’s acceptable that consumers are led to make purchasing mistakes with his product.  Apparently any malfeasance is excusable in the name of openness.

  • Tom

    Sorry, but how are consumers led to make purchasing mistakes? When an OEM makes a froyo tablet, and promotes it, won't consumers see that it won't run apps before they purchase? Or am I thinking in Apple Store terms for an android product?

    • RattyUK

      The issue is what is the Android experience? If you have a tablet but are not allowed to access the market place what are you getting? For geeks and such it won't matter. They're really happy searching all over the net for a possible app that will run. For others this is a deal killer.

      I am really surprised that a Google person should step into the limelight to point this out. I mean this is no different from what they have been saying for a while but it will muddy the water when it comes to all these people buying an iPad killer running up to Christmas.

      If you can't access the apps then you don't have a killer.

    • http://www.asymco.com asymco

      No, they won't see it. People of modest means will see what looks like an iPad in a WalMart and buy it for $199 for their grand-daughter and think they're helping her with her homework. On that box will be the Google Android logo they've been led to believe means it's just like an iPod. it's the child who is the victim.

      Lots of people fell for this also with iPod clones and Zunes.

      It's one thing to fool the buyer, but to do it and say it's ok because it's "Open" is just sleazy.

      It's ok that copyrights are infringed in our branded store because we're "Open."

      It's ok that carriers do bait and switch on their customers in our name, because we're "Open".

      it's no different than saying crime is ok, because we live in a free society.

      • Tom

        The longer this goes on, the further the android experience develops, the more similarities appear between Android/Google and Windows/Microsoft. We see how many people adopted Windows, how widespread is Google through its search dominance, and how quickly Android is gaining market share. It seems that things will develop the same again. Mr. Ballmer and Hugo Barra from Google may be direct competitors, but they have the same contempt for consumers.

      • http://www.asymco.com asymco

        In the case of Google it's even more sinister. Microsoft's motives were transparent. They sought domination and market share. Google's motives are a matter of debate. There is a strog sense of duplicity and a carefree disregard for the consequences of their strategies.

      • Z

        Isn't that like undereducated people who buy the iPad expecting to see Flash websites?

      • Tom

        I just read a post which reported that auger android tablet was selling like hotcakes, but with an unauthorized and nonfunctioning link to the official android marketplace. It was basically just a summary, with little to no analysis. What was really telling was the comments section. It was flooded with reactions of disbelief and confusion, almost as if someone had seen a deck of cards with red spades or black hearts. The consumers had no category for manipulation or deception. The store was to be trusted, and so its products must be, too. Blind trust to pay for a cheap, nonfunctioning, knockoff piece of junk.

      • EricE

        "No, they won’t see it. People of modest means will see what looks like an iPad in a WalMart and buy it for $199 for their grand-daughter and think they’re helping her with her homework."

        That only works for so long. What a shock, netbook sales are tanking because people have been living with them.

        There are tons of cheap MP3 players – there were cheaper players than the iPod the day the iPod was released, yet Apple still owns the MP3 player market.

        Price only gets you so far. If you have little else to offer other than price, any success you get will be short lived indeed. Just ask creative and sandisk.

  • Iphoned

    "don't be evil" ?

    • Tom

      Google has always had a casual approach towards copyright infringement. Their open book scanning project has gone back and forth in the courts for years as Google scans into digital format every book ever printed, in or out of copyright. Google ads are plastered all over the pages! They consider themselves above the law, above everyone else. China showed them they will have to do things evil if they want to continue to do business. They seem very comfortable being evil with android.

      • http://www.asymco.com asymco

        Comfortably evil. I like the way that sounds.

    • RattyUK

      Don't be useful… is how it appears…

      • David Chu

        NIce

  • Narayanan

    Wait till the lawyers hear this. BTW where are the Consumer Report people?

    • Tom

      They're too busy bashing Apple over its antenna and poor distribution.

  • Iphoned

    @Tom

    It sure does start to look like Windows vs Mac all over again. But with one key difference. Microsoft benefited from Windows.

    • Tom

      @iphoned
      As long as Google gets ads splashed all over results pages, they're happy.

  • pk de cville

    Consumer Reports editors:

    Imagine all the credit you'll get for exposing something really "comfortably evil."

    Another round tripper with a special bonus: This time, you'll be serving your subscribers with the truth!

    Regards,

    a former lifelong 60 year old subscriber

  • poru

    So Google will need:

    a) a team of engineers trying to get Froyo onto all the different devices and "form factors"
    and
    b) another team keeping track of their success to alert people which devices will work properly and which won't

    Or maybe they won't bother with (b)?

  • Iphoned

    Looks like carriers will ship iPad competitors at subsidized prices. Interestingly, this includes ATT which chose or was not allowed to sell subsidized iPad. This is going to be very interesting.

    • http://www.asymco.com asymco

      The vast majority of netbooks in Europe were sold through operators with subsidies. This is also why Nokia got into the netbook business. One wonders how long consumers are willing to make this bargain.

      • Jim

        Many people seem to have overlooked the fact that Apple broke the mold with the iPad 3G by selling it unlocked. Moreover, the networks succumbed to allowing on device activation/inactivation. This destabilizes the entire tablet/net book market and sets a precedent for future devices. Apple will not have to cave in future as they did with the first iPhone as clearly people are willing to buy at the unsubsidized price points. Moreover, the WiFi-only version is an alternative that us entirely insulated from carriers (like the iPod Touch).

        At some point, carriers will have to offer unlocked phones and provide hardware subsidies if you buy a contract. They will also surely have to offer lower cost contracts to owners of unsubsidized phones. This would allow people to insert foreign SIMs when traveling or when in areas of poor service. Apple has shown (through the iPad and iPod Touch) that there is a market for unsubsidized devices – the question is whether (or when) the public will wise up to the double digit APRs they are paying through their contracts for the small up-front price break. It's a scam, nothing less.

  • Iphoned
  • Iphoned

    According to this article, the Archos Android tablet via K mart is selling well, although with an illegal Android market. What a mess is this G Andoid ecosystem thi appears to be.

    Does anyone know if this tablet really selling well?
    http://www.appconsumer.com/augen-android-tablet-b

  • yet another steve

    Apple is wise in doing all they can to meet ipad demand. They're cannibalizing PC sales, getting adopted by major corporations, and this is the state of the competition.

    This isn't mac/windows; this is ipod/"plays for sure".

    Enterprises understand cost of ownership; the problem for the mac was they were too locked in to MS by the time the mac became a serious computer. Even the iphone has had to deal with Crackberry lockin.

    By contrast the ipad could take the enterprise by storm. In fact, as appealing as Android is to geeks, where's the appeal to the MS oriented IT department? To an IT department, "open" means more support expense. Remember an enterprise can deploy its own ios apps without any restriction.

    And in all spaces, including consumer, the silliest thing is the subsidized tablets that come with a contract. That's a niche phone, not a mainstream device.

    I'm rambling because I'm just astounded by the opportunity Apple has here and just how flat footed they've left the competition.

    (And remember, PC makers who would be tablet makers… Android might be mission critical to you, but it's just a science project to google. MS was your partner… google is just geeks with a whole lot of money. I guess the same is true for enterprises…)

    • EricE

      "MS was your partner… "

      MS was a partner in the same way a female black widow spider (MS) and a male black widow spider (everyone else) partner to ensure the propagation of their species. Enough interaction to get the job done, but a race away when it's over to ensure oneself doesn't get eaten. A vary wary existence indeed.

      "google is just geeks with a whole lot of money."

      Clueless or desperate geeks with money depending on your point of view. Android has already gotten away from them. Verizon screwing Google is even better than Google announcing free wifi hotspot capabilities, probably to their "partners" at the same time they announced it to the world.

      As others have pointed out, Chrome isn't really poised to be a follow on mobile OS. I don't know why everyone is assuming that just because Google was successful in search that they know what they are doing in the mobile market or that they have a viable long term strategy vs. just bumbling around reacting to others (notably Apple).

      Perhaps Google's strategy looks chaotic and confused because… well, it is?

  • Iphoned

    " Android might be mission critical to you, but it’s just a science project to google."

    That's an interesting observation. I guess we'll see how this plays out.

  • min

    This is not looking pretty, at all.
    a. Google states that Froyo is not tablet-optimized. Apps may/may not crash due to larger tablet resolution.
    b. OEMs are going ahead with building tablets based on Froyo.
    c. Who is the customer supposed to complain to if their app crashes their tablet: Google, the OEM, or the app store (whomever that may be).
    d. Who is responsible for patching security holes? Google or Samsung, et. al.

    • http://www.asymco.com asymco

      Maybe a market will emerge for "the pad squad" who will for only $99 come to your house and clean your Android Pad of viruses or answer questions that nobody else will. Or maybe not. Expectations of quality for devices tend to be higher than for PCs.

  • Calcifer

    Google does not allow the Market Place on tablets. Some vendors will provide their own market place. I've got an app on Google Market Place and got asked by a few vendors like Archos to port it over to their hardware. They promised it would be easy to do which isn't true of course since tablets are differently used than phones.

    So, what will happen is that there will be very few apps available from developers that do take the effort to port their stuff. Most of these apps will just be upscaled phone apps. Probably most vendors won't even bother to create their own store and just come with the web browser and some pre-installed apps.

    • Tom

      We are already seeing this on android phones (not too smart): Verizon has gutted android of all things google, and sold out to msft for bing.

      Well, at least bing search pages aren't hosed down with google ads! But maps n navigation are really poor.

      • http://www.asymco.com asymco

        From the well-spoken Macalope:
        http://www.macworld.com/article/154020/2010/09/ma

        Android’s popular, there’s no denying that, but at what price comes popularity when you wake up in a strange hotel room with your arm around Bing?

  • Z

    Another factor is that it appears Google are making a specialized push for Android tablets next year.

    http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communica

    Publically calling the Galaxy tab/similar devices a big phone and marginalising Froyo tablets appears to be damage control to prevent the dilution of the brand (re: Kin). Arguably it may pay off in the long term.

    Google are due to demo the next version of Android next month, which includes a revamped UI and support for higher resolution. From what Samsung and Archos are saying, Honeycomb is a fork based on this targeted towards tablets.

    • Jim

      In a market like this, next year is too long. That's why the OEMs are slapping together premature devices by cobbling together software extensions. It's a band-aid solution but they've been caught with their pants down and cannot just sit there while Apple sucks in the revenues and locks in the components.

      Even Apple is pushing it's limits by pre-announcing OS4.2 and aggressively developing the market. They must have been caught out by their own success.

      As for the Froyo devices like the hyped Samsung Tab, they will either be
      subsidized and require a contract or will be a lot more expensive for a 7" device . Not the most auspicious launch conditions for a product that even your OS developer is poo-pooing.

  • Iphoned

    All this may explain why all recent Android tablets are 7" and not iPAD's size. I guess going with a 7" is really like a large phone, and manufacturers can still get a way with the current version of Andoid and yet still call it a tablet.

  • Narayanan

    Google is smart, it is a "heads I win, tails you lose" play from them.

    With the expected rise in Android tablet shipments, I think Google is simply trying to deflect their liability and shifting the blame to the manufacturers if things do not pan out well.

    With their history of permanent beta labeling, I wouldn't be surprised at all!
    The "Pad squads" will be very happy for the business also.

  • EricE

    "With their history of permanent beta labeling, I wouldn’t be surprised at all!
    The “Pad squads” will be very happy for the business also."

    Not for long. The only reason people historically put up with the Geek Squad and Windows was due to them using it at work.

    And even that tied is turning – with Apples Mac sales increasing each and every quarter.

    There is no reason for users to put up with a horrible experience that mandates "pad squads" for support. That tie in is long gone in yet another defunct past business model.

    Disruptive indeed!