Recent rumors have surfaced that indicate Google is working on not one, but two, tablets, one based on Android, and the other on the Chrome OS. The company is working directly with HTC and Motorola if the rumors are to be believed, with the goal to produce a flagship tablet for each platform.
The tablet space is about to heat up, with quite a few companies having already indicated that products based on Google’s Android platform are in progress. In the midst of this Android tablet frenzy, we mustn’t overlook that Google is working on the Chrome OS, and is expected to make sure it works well on tablets. Google didn’t set any sales records with its flagship Android phone, the Nexus One. This phone was produced through a collaboration with Google and HTC to jump-start the fledgling Android platform in the smartphone market. That effort was a success on several levels, and there are three reasons Google should repeat the Nexus One process in the tablet space.
Build a controlled device. Google created an environment with the Nexus One where it could control the entire user experience. It was able to tailor the Android development effort to the handset, which was built with current technology. This control made it feasible (some would say too feasible) to make rapid changes in the OS to fine-tune the user experience. This was only possible because Google (with hardware partner HTC) had complete control over the hardware and the handset firmware. Google apparently took a page from Apple’s product design book.
The same control would reap big benefits in the tablet space, for both the Android and the Chrome OS models. Android is a solid platform for phones, but it will need to be tweaked to take advantage of the tablet form factor. Chrome OS will be a brand-new platform, and will require even more tuning to the hardware. Controlling the entire hardware/software package will be a big advantage for Google to address problems quickly.
Jump-start the Google tablet market. A strong product goes a long way to show both enthusiasts, developers and OEMs how solid the given platform is for such products. It sends a message that Google is firmly behind the new product, and others should jump on board.
Google tweaked Android with useful features on the Nexus One which made the platform evolve at an accelerated pace. This model would work with tablets just as effectively, and it has the added benefit of turning early adopters into part of the effort. Rapid evolution is the result, with public discussion among the adopters a good by-product.
Stem potential negative product feedback. We are already seeing cheap Android tablets hitting reviewer’s hands, that are getting negative reviews. These are tablets constructed using cheap components, and they don’t optimize the Android software. A solid tablet from Google would go a long way to prove these cheap tablets are not a result of the platform.
The Google Nexus One experiment was a success in showing the market what Android phones could do, and how competitive they could be. Having similar flagship tablets would have the same results by creating a controlled environment for development and optimization. This would accelerate adoption of the platform, which is what Google really wants. It’s not a hardware company, after all.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Google Takes the Open Battle to Apple on Multiple Fronts