We’ve come to a bit of a crossroads lately. It’s like an intersection of bad for the folks at Google and we might just be at the point where we need to make a decision that could affect the future of technology. It’s time to decide what’s going to happen to tablets, and more accurately, Android tablets. This is the elephant that has been in the room for the past couple of years, so maybe it’s time to move the elephant out, so we have room for the Christmas tree.
Android tablets have never been all that popular. Some OEMs have made attempts at Android-powered tablets, but despite best efforts, Apple has dominated the tablet market practically from its inception. Recently, we’ve seen a wave of Windows tablets and 2-in-1’s, which is doing an admirable job of picking up those users who haven’t gotten iPads. Then, there’s Google and Android tablets. Yeah. What do we do about those?
Google itself hasn’t gone silently into that good night. The Pixel tablet (and now with phones to compliment it) is a pretty great offering into the tablet space. It has high quality specifications, and a pretty nice keyboard attachment, making it a solid competitor with the Windows offerings claiming to be a laptop replacement. With Google’s Pixel phones coming to market, it might be a good time to double down on this concept and get a new model out there. Brand awareness is a thing, and now would be a good time to strike while the iron is hot.
Google is also making a lot of strides into a connected ecosystem with Google Assistant being everywhere you want it to be. Google Home and The Pixel phones are both coming with Google Assistant and it’s only a matter of time before new phones start coming with it too. Tablets aren’t really a space Google can afford to pass on at the moment. Despite declining tablet sales, there still are tablet sales, which means people are still using them. As long as there is a market, Google can’t really afford to ignore it.
Plus, let’s face it, not everyone wants an Apple or Windows machine. There are many reasons to want to keep an Android tablet. Outside of just the Assistant, Google’s ecosystem is wide ranging in email, documents, calendars, storage, basically just about anything you’re going to be using while mobile. With that tight integration, it’s hard to step outside of Google’s ecosystem, once you’re in. Apps on iOS are decent, but Google’s doing it really slick on Android.
But maybe that’s what Chromebooks are for? Chromebooks recently started using Android Apps, so there’s your strong ecosystem. Chromebooks also become a good work machine with the built-in keyboard/mouse, so it’s very much the best of both worlds. Given the relative price point of Chromebooks versus Apple and Microsoft tablets, Google could make a strong push in this market.
Plus, speaking of elephants in the room, let’s talk about phablets. Our phones are getting bigger and bigger. While that may not be such a good thing to some, larger phones mean there is less need for larger screens that come with tablets. An argument could be made that someone could carry around a small phone and a large tablet, but just from a strictly anecdotal standpoint, I don’t know many people that do that. And the sales numbers of tablets back that up.
So, which way do we go from here? Is it even up to Google? I mean, if Samsung wants to make a tablet, who is Google to stop it? And that’s another, bigger problem for Google – complete loss of control over its ecosystem. Recently, we’ve seen Google try to scale things back a bit and try to take the reins more, but Android remains the wild, wild west of the mobile OS world. So, maybe it’s not even up to Google any more. Still, the question needed to be asked, and now I’ve asked it.
So, what do you think? Are Android tablets still viable in today’s market? Is it time to flip the buffet table and push the reset button? Shall I mix a few more metaphors before we get to the end of this article? Sound off below and let’s see if we can figure this out.