One of the more interesting conversations that I’ve had on social media recently involves the issue of Android tablets, and more specifically, whether Android tablets have been a disappointment in 2011. I’ve decided to argue both sides of the issue and then throw the question open to the TechRepublic community.
Why Android tablets have been a disappointment
At the beginning of 2011, expectations for Android tablets were sky high. Google provided a demo of Honeycomb, the tablet version of Android, at CES 2011 in January and hardware makers quickly lined up to announce their Android tablets. Android smartphones were on a roll at that point and it looked possible that Android tablets could overtake the iPad in marketshare in 2011, just as Android smartphones had overtaken the iPhone in marketshare in 2010. However, when Honeycomb was released the OS was raw and buggy, app builders were slow to get on board, and even with a slew of different devices coming to market, Android tablets couldn’t stop the momentum of the iPad. The Motorola Xoom turned into an overpriced dud, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 featured impressive hardware but was still saddled with a Honeycomb OS desperately in need of a big upgrade. Android tablets are still in search of a hit device.
Why Android tablets are a success
While Honeycomb still has some wrinkles to iron out, it will improve quickly. The next version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, will be coming this fall and will unite smartphones and tablets and bring a lot of important improvements to the platform, including important efforts to end fragmentation of the Android app ecosystem, which should attract a lot more developers. Even with the upgrades that are needed to Honeycomb and the lack of a hit device, Android tablets have already achieved 30% market share in less than a year despite the fact that the iPad is so popular and reasonably priced. Just as it took Android smartphones about a year to hit their stride, so Android tablets will find their legs by the end of this year and be ready to take the iPad head on. In other words, Android tablets are right on track and the best is yet to come.