Why Android Tablets Failed

Today, when most people hear the word ‘tablet, ’they immediately think ‘iPad.

’ In fact, Apple has held such a dominate position forso long that it’s easy to forget what the tablet market looked like before the iPad’srelease.

But that isn’t the case when it comes to smartphones.

Although the iPhonehas been very successful, Google was able to overtake Apple in smartphone marketshareback in 2010, and today Android dominates the global market.

So why did Google failto replicate their smartphone success with tablets? Well, that’s exactly what we’regoing to find out.

This is Greg with Apple Explained, and I want to thank Paperlike forsponsoring this video.

If you want to help decide which topics I cover, make sure you’resubscribed and these voting polls will show up in your mobile activity feed.

Now before we get into the reasons why Androidtablets failed to gain much traction among customers, we need to understand what thetablet market looked like before the iPad was around.

Because tech companies had differentideas of what a tablet should be and how it should function.

And it was these differentapproaches to tablets that determined which companies succeeded, and which struggled.

So one of the biggest players in the tablet market beginning in 2003 was Microsoft withwhat they called the Microsoft Tablet PC.

It ran a slightly modified version of theWindows operating system, which allowed for input from a stylus rather than a keyboardand mouse.

Now as you can see, these tablet PCs were clunky, at about an inch thick, heavy, at about 3 to 4 pounds, and suffered from poor battery life, delivering about 4 to 5hours of use.

And to make matters even worse, these Microsoft Tablet PCs had an averageprice tag of about $2, 000.

Which made them significantly more expensive than their notebookcomputer equivalent.

So as you may’ve guessed, these tabletsnever had much commercial success.

But this didn’t stop Apple users from wanting theirown version of these tablet computers.

In fact, some third party companies like Axiotrontook matters into their own hands and created Macintosh tablet computers themselves.

Butthese devices were based on the same approach Microsoft took to tablet PCs.

The idea thattablets should run a desktop-computer OS designed for a mouse.

And this created some innatechallenges.

In order to run Windows or Mac OS on a tablet, you’d need the precisionof a cursor.

Which is why you had to use a stylus rather than your fingers.

Also, thetablet needs all the hardware of a desktop computer.

It needs a desktop-grade processor, GPU, and cooling system.

All of which come at the detriment of battery life.

So as Apple began developing on their ownversion of the tablet, it became clear they needed to take a different approach.

Insteadusing Mac OS, they’d give their tablet iOS, a mobile operating system already used onthe iPhone.

And this was a good decision for a few reasons.

iOS was power efficient whichwould allow for all-day battery life, it featured multitouch which eliminated the need for astylus, and it could run on Apple’s low-power A4 system-on-a-chip, which allowed for a compact, thin, and light design.

Not to mention how much cheaper this tablet would be to producethan a traditional desktop computer.

That’s part of the reason why tech analysts wereshocked when Apple announced the iPad’s starting price of $500, about half of whatmost people were predicting.

Now it wasn’t long before the iPad provedto be a huge hit, which prompted other tech companies to create similar devices that ranGoogle’s Android OS.

And the following year in 2011, the market was flooded with Androidtablets.

Just take a look at this article which said, “Tablets absolutely stole theshow at CES 2011.

Just about every company had one.

While the idea of a tablet may soundexciting, the majority of these were unfortunately poorly put together Android tablets.

” “Itfelt as though some companies had merely glued a screen, a battery back, a processor, andsome memory together and loaded Android onto it thinking it would sell.

Aside from a fewbrand-name tablets, the majority on the show floor were still running Android 2.

0, 2.

1, or 2.


While those versions of Android aren’t necessarily bad, the OS was built for a phone” So right from the beginning, the majorityof Android tablets were delivering poor functionality and performance.

It was clear that manufacturerswere rushing products to market to try and steal as much of the iPads thunder as possible.

But these manufacturers didn’t understand what made the iPad so desirable in the firstplace.

Because if you remember back to the iPads introduction, Steve Jobs made it veryclear that while the iPad had fantastic hardware, it was the software that would define theuser experience.

And while apps made for the iPhone could run on the iPad and be scaledup, Scott Forstall told developers that they should modify their apps and rewrite the interfacein order to take advantage of the iPads larger display.

Similar to what Apple did with theirPhotos, Music, Calendar, and YouTube apps.

So in order to encourage developers to rewritetheir applications, Apple created an iPad Software Development Kit that was releasedthe same day as the iPad’s introduction.

A very strategic move by Apple that gave developersover two months to prepare iPad-optimized versions of their apps.

That way, when thevery first iPad was sold, there would already be a marketplace of high-quality iPad appsavailable for download.

And that brings me to one of the biggest reasonswhy Android tablets failed.

They started off running a smartphone operating system withapps that weren’t optimized for a tablet’s larger display.

In fact, many of these earlyAndroid tablets didn’t even have access to Google Marketplace to download third partyapps.

Google was working on an operating system called Honeycomb which was optimized for tablets, but manufacturers wanted to bring their devices to market as soon as possible, and didn’twant to wait on Google to finish their work on Honeycomb.

This resulted in what I mentionedearlier, hundreds of cheap Android tablets running a smartphone operating system thatresulted in a poor user experience.

This created nothing but confusion and frustration forcustomers, and severely damaged the reputation of Android tablets right off the bat.

It’s a story that we’ve heard before withMP3 players and the iPod.

There were hundreds of MP3 players on the market trying to competewith the iPod, but none of them were able to gain any traction.

Mainly because of theirpoor build quality, software, and user interface.

Despite being a fraction of the cost, mostcustomers shopping for a music player ignored these MP3 players and instead opted for theiPod.

And there were a few reasons for this that may sound familiar.

Everyone knew whatthe iPod was.

And most people who didn’t own one probably had friends or family memberswho did.

They likely used the device for themselves before purchasing and was satisfied with theexperience.

Perhaps they’d like to save money by buying a cheaper MP3 player, butthey understood that no other device would deliver the same experience as the iPod.

Andmany people learned this for themselves by purchasing a generic MP3 player, becomingfrustrated by its complexity or poor functionality, and leaving it in the junk drawer never tobe used again.

Which is very similar to what happened with Android tablets.

But this is only one piece of the puzzle, because a recurring challenge with Android is device fragmentation.

It’s a problemwhen it comes to their smartphones, but it’s an even bigger problem with their tablets.

Because all the iPad’s advantages could only be achieved with Apple’s end-to-endcontrol over hardware, software, and the app store.

When it came to Android, things weremuch less organized.

How can a developer optimize an app for hundreds of different devices withdisplay sizes that range from seven to thirteen inches? And how can apps run efficiently whenthere are dozens of different processors and chipsets they need to be compatible with? To put it plainly, it’s a nightmare to developapplications for Android tablets.

And considering the small install base, it simply isn’tworth many developers time and effort to rewrite their smartphone apps for tablets.

And itcauses what I call the “developer deterrent” problem.

You see, Android tablets have neversold well historically, so there isn’t a very large user base.

This means developersaren’t motivated to create custom designed apps for those devices.

Instead, existingsmartphone apps are simply stretched to fill the tablet’s larger display, rather thanbeing truly optimized to take advantage of the extra screen real estate.

This issue isslowly improving, but it’s part of the reason why the app ecosystem on Android tablets hasalways been underwhelming, and this discourages people from buying them.

So you can see thevicious cycle that forms: People aren’t buying Android tablets since their apps aren’toptimized, and developers aren’t optimizing apps for Android tablets because of the smalluser base.

And when you consider the fact that Apple users spend twice as much moneyon apps than Android users, it’s easy to understand why developers invest more timeand effort creating high quality apps for iPads.

Now Google eventually released their Honeycomb3.

0 operating system which was designed for devices with larger displays.

But it was extremelybuggy and difficult to navigate, unlike the straightforward interface of the iPad.

Itwas clear that Google was trying to deliver a tablet OS as quickly as possible to competewith Apple, but in the process missed the mark completely.

Focusing on creating a moretraditional desktop computer interface rather than investing resources in the features thatmattered most to users.

Like a large ecosystem with apps optimized for the devices they owned.

And ever since that Honeycomb release, Google has proved that they don’t understand whatit takes to create a successful Android tablet.

In 2012 they released the Nexus 7, which waswhat they thought buyers wanted.

A cheap mini tablet that included Google Wallet, Near FieldCommunication, and their voice assistant Google Now.

But the device was poorly built plaguedwith bugs that rendered it useless for most users after just one year.

In 2014 Google flipped their strategy on itshead and released the Nexus 9.

A more premium tablet similar to the iPad mini whose sellingpoint was the NVIDIA “Denver” Tegra K1 chip.

It was supposed to be one of the only chipsetsto give the iPad a run for its money, but it ended up falling behind the iPad Air 2’sA8X.

Plus, Google’s tablets were still suffering from unoptimized apps that didn’t deliverthe same full-featured experience as the iPad.

The Nexus 9 was discontinued about 18 monthslater as Google shifted their strategy yet again.

They introduced the Pixel C near theend of 2015 which looked to challenge Apple’s iPad Air 2.

But despite adopting some of thesame features and design cues as the iPad Air, the Pixel C was plagued by Android’spoor support for tablet hardware and a tiny app ecosystem that paled in comparison tothe iPad’s App Store.

In June of 2019 Google stopped development and production of alltheir tablets and confirmed they’d no longer be making those devices.

Instead, Google wouldbe investing their resources in notebook computers.

So while Android has experienced tremendoussuccess on smartphones, it hasn’t been able to overcome the fragmentation, poor app ecosystem, and underwhelming performance that has plagued the platform since the very first Androidtablets were released in 2011.

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Alright guys thanks for watching and I’llsee you next time.


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