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News  1, Jul 2012

The Nexus 7 is Google’s tablet hero, but it might not work

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Google Nexus 7Its all over the news. Google just launched its own tablet - Nexus 7 to enter the lucrative US$78.7 billion tablet market. While the whole new tablet has received mixed reviews from the world wide web, we take a look at why the new Nexus 7 might not work from a competitive analysis and usability point of view.

Seven-inch tablets offer a bad user experience, says Nielsen Norman Group

Nielsen Norman Group published some interesting findings on its usability after doing a qualitative study. The finding states that seven-inch screens offers a bad user experience to the tablet users, and in the studied case, Kindle Fire users. According to the report, one important observation from testing the Kindle Fire is that “everything is much too small on the screen, leading to frequent tap errors and accidental activation”.

The article also concluded that “for seven-inch tablets to succeed, service and content providers must design specifically for these devices. Repurposed designs from print, mobile phones, 10-inch tablets, or desktop PCs will fail, because they offer a terrible user experience. A seven-inch tablet is a sufficiently different form factor that it must be treated as a new platform. Furthermore, these mid-sized tablets are so weak that suboptimal designs — that is, repurposed content — won’t work. Optimize for seven-inch or die.”

Whether the seven-inch screen size will post an issue and affects its sales is still anyone’s best guess, and we will only find out when Google release its sales report.

Tablet market dominated by Apple, iPad mini coming

Other than the bad user experience, Nexus 7 is operating in a competitive space. The tablet market has been dominated by Apple and so far, no other companies have been able to catch up with its sales, simply because Apple has a strong branding and its own hardware and software infrastructure. According to netmarketshare, iOS owns almost 63 percent of the tablet market share, followed by Android – almost 20%. This data is supported by the International Data Corporation, which states that “Apple iPad market shares are expected to increase from 58.2 percent in 2011 to 62.5 percent by this year’s end.  Whereas iOS tablets are expected to increase in shares, Android based tablets will lose market shares—going from 38.7 percent to 36.5 percent by the end of this year”.

While companies like Amazon and Google has been trying to capture the tablet market by introducing different features and different hardwares with different price point, Apple still remains as the tablet dominant player. Nexus 7 will face the same problem and struggle to get more sales so that the product line will not be discontinued. On top of that, there has also been rumors that Apple will be rolling out its own seven-inch version, known as the iPad Mini. If Apple does release it, Nexus 7 will be facing another wave of struggle and most attention will be shifted to the new iPad mini as a better viable alternative.

3G excluded and low storage capacity

The new Nexus 7 comes powered with wifi and not with 3G or 4G. With more users using their devices on the move to consume news and digital content, the decision to exclude 3G or 4G might affect user acquisition and sales. Nexus 7 is available at US$199, and comes with either 8GB or 16GB of storage, a rather unattractive storage capacity, considering the fact that we consume and store more and more data everyday. Ideally, users want to download and watch movies on the go, and this is almost impossible with no 3G and a low storage capacity.

Of course, the features would probably be too much to ask taking into account that the Nexus 7 is offered at an amazingly low price point. This would be appealing to users who have a minimal tablet usage and to those that finds other tablets out of their means. However, the big question remains, do we need yet another seven-inch tablet?

Well, I certainly dont think so. Increasingly, tablet makers have to start thinking not just about offering an affordable hardware, but also some unique features which other tablets do not offer.

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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