Android investigate

You vote: Have Android tablets been a disappointment?

Android tablets went into 2011 with sky high expectations and have taken market share from the iPad, but are they a success? Cast your vote.

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.

You vote

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

33 comments
rexrzer1238477
rexrzer1238477

None of the tablets impress like an iPad does, end of story sadly. There's no coherent Android eco-system with flood-gates of apps coming out or out now; the Honeycomb is a sad attempt at an OS for the tablets; specs are great, performance is somewhat spotty in most of them; what has your Android tablet done for you TODAY, not tomorrow or further in the future? Answer: Nothing! I waited around for 1/2 the year while things were supposed to iron themselves out with the Android tablets, but things only got worse, and look at the HP debacle! Even they folded up shop and game over pitted against iPad and iPad 2. I tried to like an Android tablet but ended up with a 32GB WiFi/3G iPad 2 and I've never regretted the decision, most likely never will...it rocks! Tell me some success stories about Android tablet owners, and I'll listen and read but I'll betcha they are vapor just like the tablets are right now, NOT TOMORROW or next year! Speak about the present when you rate things, and the past for reference, but don't give me a bunch of BS about the problems being "because of Apple being a patent troll" or whatever you want to write...give me some facts, and some honest appraisals and then I'll be interested, not this empty hole of an argument for success of those things...the rancid truth is that they've all failed, one way or another, to a one!

yetisouth
yetisouth

Unfortunately some of the Apps are too basic and often buggy. Specially Apps for the corporate environment are not up to scratch. I want LibreOffice for Android - and I want it NOW!!

pete
pete

... is that my boss hasn't got me one yet - we're in the web-app business and he's got an iPad to test with, but not an Android :(

HipposRule
HipposRule

if Apple wasn't such a patent troll (in Europe)

Frenz9
Frenz9

I think the problem hindering android tablets is the specs, personally i feel the only real viable tablets so far is the galaxy tab 10.1 and possibly the up coming Sony s.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

Right now, and after trying both the iPad, the ASUS Transformer, and the Galaxy for several weeks each, I'm using the Transformer. It was clearly the best choice for me, by a wide margin.

mjp33
mjp33

I'm a sys admin for a "mega"-church (yeah we do have a pretty decent IT environment) and here's how I was able to use my new Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE yesterday. I was on the other side of campus yesterday afternoon and found a printer someone had purchased and wanted installed. I could have made a couple trips back and forth to my office to get it setup, but instead I used the FREE "Jump Desktop" app to RDP into the DHCP server to reserve an IP address for the printer, then downloaded the drivers to my tab and copied them to our NAS via the FREE "ES File Explorer" app, next I remoted into the Print Server to add it to the directory (again through "Jump Desktop"), finally I used the FREE "ActiveDir Manager" app to deploy that printer to the group of computers in that area of the building. Oh, and while I was waiting for downloads, etc. I used "S3Anywhere" to upload the MP3s from this past Sunday's services to our Amazon S3 storage. Also yesterday, I setup Google Cloud Print on our print server which instantly gave my Android users the ability to print to any of our printers/copiers. There's some real world facts for you.

Jdobney
Jdobney

You seem to have forgotten that the "HP debacle..." was not associated in any way, shape or form with the google OS. As I understand it, the TouchPad had it's very own "webOS" that caused the problems, not honeycomb or any other android OS. Personally, I have the Xoom tablet TODAY, and it helps me in my job as an IT manager. TODAY, I have been able to get onto our networks, VPN in to several locations and run diagnostic health checks on a few of our nets. That is just TODAY; last week, when we were doing wireless, I was able to fire up android only 100% free apps. This should clear up the Touchpad mistake and give you a *free* testimonial about the Android OS. I am pleased with it, and it is my belief that no matter what OS you use first (iOS, Android, webOS, etc.), the one you become most familiar with will be your favorite.

bugsie857
bugsie857

He is so angry!! Why? Here's why.... Apple can feel the noose tightening around their "We invented the world, lets forget that Nokia, Motorola and Google invented what we now do" neck. Google's open ethos on allowing users to do, unlike Apple, have a choice to do what they want, when they want, how they want, and with transparency, will always sacrifice some areas (see article) - This is something Apple... by that I mean Jobs, will NEVER give you. ... after all they are so so proud of the things they say "NO" to. Apple are now being forced to say "YES" with great thanks to Google and Android. So this iDiot above should actually thank Google. Ps did you know Aliens set up Google? Yeeah, they want to take over the world and suck out our brains.

thegreenwizard1
thegreenwizard1

Since it is free, wait until some one is ready to give his own time to do it.

camcost
camcost

Our office purchased three ipads and one Android tablet for convention/show usage. The majority of folks want to use the ipads, and just a couple people go for the Android. The Android seems to be able to do more, but not as simply... and that seems to be the key detriment.

bugsie857
bugsie857

... in 1960 Star Trekinvented the mobile phone - "Beam me up Scotty" it even had hands free. If Apple have their way history will be rewritten (as Hollywood likes to do) to say Apple invented the mobile phone... I think that in itself is a crime!

bugsie857
bugsie857

...because my little black book is so similar to the Galaxy S2 it's uncanny. They clearly stole my design. I was first to invent er, not a book, course I didn't really invent that, I mean books have been around since.... just that, it's black and... square, and... it's just wrong on so many levels. Patent infringement and all that...

wlmeng11
wlmeng11

Apple: I made a touchscreen with buttons first! *hands a wad of cash to judge*

DBOConnor
DBOConnor

I thought the new Samsung Galaxy tablet was a disappointment, when someone in the design department decided to remove the option to use a microSD card. If someone was to use the Ben Franklin method to make a decision as in my case which table to purchase ,excluding the microSD card slot in the 10.1 inch model told me to sit out and wait out the Ipad 3 version or get the Ipad 2 version from an Applehead who is salivating to upgrade to the Ipad 3 when the Ipad 3 launches. Steve Jobs is a genius, and until the Android tablet manufacturers pay attention and do focus groups or think outside the box they will see their devices come and go with lackluster sales. I want flexibility, capability to take pictures with my pad, play audio/ videos, ppts, documents and ADD and REMOVE memory card slots with those files. Having cloud is nice, but even better with the memory card option.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Everybody touts how the Android tablets specs are so great compared to that other tablet. The problem, however, is a combination of complexity and high price: complexity to consumers and too expensive for the other Android users.

mgauley
mgauley

What about the Transformer. Not as light but has the best dock of any tablet.

Barmace
Barmace

I found that most of the Android tablet were just clones of eachother. my Motorola Xoom has all the same specs as all the newer one. That is just my opinion.

mihaelb
mihaelb

FYI, almost all honeycomb tablets have the same specs

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Surely there was a much easier way to do it that didn't require such a convoluted method.

K_Green
K_Green

There need to be more 'day-in-the-life' summaries like this that real-world users can get ideas from. This one was IT-heavy (naturally, considering this forum). Now we need some from musicians, politicians, news reporters, engineers, etc.

Hazydave
Hazydave

One simple one: the Touchpad, at least by some cost breakdowns, was about $100 more to make than the iPad2. As well, although every native WebOS application is written in Javascript (Microsoft's "Metro" system is similar in this respect), they had the worst Javascript performance on any tablet. But the biggie --they priced it on par with Apple. As someone pointed out, Apple is Mercedes, or Neiman-Marcus... they are a luxury brand in the PC and mobile device market. Not necessarily any better at the tech level (which is why techies buy Android, or maybe Maemo/MeeGo), but seen as a higher level thing by the general public. HP is at best Ford... good value, reliable, etc. But at the same price, you're buying the Merc. Look at Apple's PCs... they start at around $1000. So an iPad at $500 seems reasonable to an Apple fan. The average selling price of a PC in 2010 was under $500 for a desktop, a bit over for a laptop. Being the largest vendor of PCs, this has to be pretty close to HPs numbers. Everyone knows a tablet ought to cost less than a netbook, meaning about a top price of $350-$400 (well , ok, HP did have a few overpriced netbooks, too), less depending on features. But they all saw Apple's big profit margins, without connecting the dots back to PC market dynamics.

Mosblest
Mosblest

but Android is not on Apple's level, period. The public views Android as the cheap or accessible alternative. When Apple releases something people usually get in long lines to get it. Android not so much because there's so much to choose from. I like the ideas Google brings to mobile but in the long run it's like GM cars versus Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and a little Honda thrown in. Apple never completely invents technology but they make them great without the nerd factor. At the moment Apple is looking to shake off the luxury image a bit to become simply high quality like a Toyota / Lexus model. Android will still be the utilitarian and high tech platform with competition coming from Microsoft. These are good times if everyone just innovates in their own unique way.

paul.ob.tech
paul.ob.tech

When, the Newton? They stole the idea from 2001:Space Odessey

camcost
camcost

One of Android's strengths is actually it's weakness. I'm referring to it's multi tasking... which is better than the iPad. The iPad just doesn't multi-task like an Android! But (here's the big but)... It's a fact that because Android reserves power for the open apps which are not in the foreground, it does not give as much power to the app being used. That is why an Android tablet with a faster processor doesn't seem to be as fast or powerful as an iPad. This doesn't just happen on one or two tablets, I've noticed it when comparing every Android I've had the opportunity to get my hands on. The iPad always seems faster! My point is... specs don't mean a thing in real-world usage. They can actually make a spec-conscience geek seem foolish when he's saying one thing but the hardware is delivering something else.

wlmeng11
wlmeng11

There is only one each year, so don't say that Android tablets lack variety. Sure, compared to Android phones, they are pretty similar, but they still are quite different.

totonuts
totonuts

no, not with free apps. But I regularly perform similar operations using my iPad 1 and fairly cheap software alternatives (iSsh for rdp, filebrowser for cifs, rove for active dir). I'm quite happy because it hardly ever bugs and because I forked out the 8??? for that bundle of apps over a year ago. My droid phone and the eeepads we have at work don't give me the same fuzzy reliable feeling, but that isn't the issue here: you can do it with an iPad too :) and there's no such thing as free lunch.

mjp33
mjp33

That's exactly how you deploy a printer on a well-managed windows network. I would have gone through the same process on my laptop at my desk. My point was that I was able to accomplish that on my Galaxy Tab with free apps, not something you could do on an iPad.

bugsie857
bugsie857

Yes you are right - thanks to Android Apple have to up their game, and the next version of IOS will have many features taken from Android in order to keep up. Ironic all this patent war stuff. Re Android not being on Apple's level... with respect, that is incorrect as of right now. If it was 2010, I would agree... Also - Mercedes have a range of 17 cars, as do Samsung, Sony, HTC, etc have a range of phones... Apple have...1!! And "Nerd Factor" is irrelevant.

wlmeng11
wlmeng11

What?!?! People line up in the Apple Store because they pretend that they're out of stock, when they actually aren't.

Hazydave
Hazydave

They're challenging Samsung tablets based on a design registration for the iPad... not the Newton, and not a patent. And in fact, the drawings registered show a very generic black picture frame. Yes, also very similar to the Samsung, but also to a number of tablets shown off, if not actually shipped, before either the iPad was announced or that document filed. And yeah, also similar to the slate in "2001", and at least half of the digital photo frames you're likely to see.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

You have an incorrect idea on how multitasking works in Android/Linux. There is no reserved "power for the open apps which are not in the foreground". Applications (processes, actually) only take CPU time if they have something to do (and are not waiting for something). Most applications will be idle most of the time, even when they are in the foreground. Only CPU intensive applications will have any significant CPU usage share. Today's tablets and smartphones have CPU (and GPU) perfectly capable of running a multitasking operating system, and a good number of applications at the same time. Install a system monitor application in a Android device and you will see that most of the time, the CPU usage share is low. As for perception, my Android Asus Transformer feels very snappy even when running many applications, and switching between them. On the contrary, changing between application in the iPad was noticeably slower, required more input/actions from the user, and resulted in a far from natural work flow (at least one that I'm not used to). "My point is... specs don't mean a thing in real-world usage." Stay away from Apple's kool-aid!