Android, logical leader of the smartphone OS market has been failing miserably on the tablet segment, for more than one and a half year already. Although nice pieces of hardware came to life, the iPad is still the unbeaten king of the market it created.
Since the March 2010 release of the iPad, the market has been expecting its killer. For now we haven’t seen any Motorola Xoom tsunami or million of Galaxy tabs sold across the world, which is normal: Rubin recently announced that only 6 million Android tablets had been activated so far. What a shame compared to the 40 million iPads sold this year.
Google tried to catch up quickly with the release of Honeycomb in October 2010, just 6 months after the iPad’s launch. Regrettably, Honeycomb’s source code was not and will never be published, which drastically limited its use and the amount of respectable Android tablets introduced in 2011. Was Google turning evil because of Android’s success? We now know that they were just terribly late, and preferred to minimize the impact of an unfinished OS. Fair enough.
Same story for Ice Cream Sandwich?
ICS, combining the best of Gingerbread and Honeycomb for a more consistent Android environment was mostly acclaimed. Not really because of its new features – they are fine and enable a lot of cool things, yet nothing revolutionary – but because the release of ICS was somehow a relief, slightly fixing the fragmentation issue. Well, now that we have “a mobile OS that works on both phones and tablets”, where is our flagship device? Did Google basically manage to unveil a cross-device OS, aiming at killing the iPad by demonstrating it on a smartphone only? Yes, they did, and that’s not a really good sign because it shows ICS is not ready, or was finished too late for OEMs to work with Google on an October product announcement.
This Christmas season will most probably be the second one during which the iPad will beat Android. Surely, fans will consider buying Android tablets, but what about the mass market, that will eventually set Android tablets’ future? Google needs to lead the way with the relevant product for these users that don’t really want quad-core devices, but a seamless tablet experience justifying a £400 expense. Google needs to show everyone that they believe in ICS’s ability to be the leading tablet OS. The best way to do so is to release a Nexus tablet, soon.