The quiet period before year end is turning out to be noisier than normal: Several new Android products launched, sales figures for older ones were announced and for the first time, there appears to be limited evidence indicating that Android tablets are starting to sell in meaningful numbers. No new tablets were announced — unless you count the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD slates — but Google’s Motorola division did introduce three new Razr phones.
The trio — Razr M, Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD are variations on the standard Razr theme: Thin handsets packed with high resolution screens, ship with the Chrome browser, run Android 4.0 (with upgrades to 4.1 by year end), and support for Verizon’s LTE network. The Razr HD was rumored for some time and no surprise, but I find the Razr M most interesting. With a $99 two-year contract cost, the M is a small-framed device with an 4.3-inch qHD display, offering a large screen experience in a small handset.
Some may be disappointed in the new Razr line since it’s the first set of new handsets from the Google-owned Motorola. There is little, perhaps no, real Google influence in the design or feature set, save the pre-installation of Chrome. Handset design, creation and production is a long-term process, however — often taking a half-year or more — so the next iteration of Motorola phones are more likely to branch out in new directions with any Google influence.
Google may be having more influence in the overall tablet market, however. Based on Eric Schmidt’s comment at the Motorola event that 70,000 Android tablets are activated daily, it appears that Android tablets are starting to make a dent the tablet market currently dominated by Apple’s iPad. Some simple math shows that, if the activation number is accurate, Android tablet sales on a daily basis are nearing 40 percent of iPad sales; a large jump from a year ago.
Apple isn’t just under attack on the iPad front though: Samsung’s Galaxy S III is the first single handset model that’s giving the iPhone a run for its money. In August, it was estimated that the Galaxy S III outsold the iPhone 4S at three of the four big U.S. carriers. This week, Samsung provided more evidence of its success, stating that the phone has sold 20 million units in its first 100 days of availability.
That’s sure to change with next week’s Apple press event where the next iPhone is expected to launch. But this signals a bigger trend between Android and iOS: For the first time since the iPhone launched in 2007, it has a truly credible competitor, meaning that the gap between Android and iOS features, functionality, hardware and demand is closing.