Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

Summary: Amid so-so reviews of first-generation Android tablets, return rate worries on Samsung's Galaxy Tab and the likely launch of Apple's iPad 2, Google will debut its Honeycomb Android 3.0 operating system.

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Amid so-so reviews of first-generation Android tablets, return rate worries on Samsung's Galaxy Tab and the likely launch of Apple's iPad 2, Google will debut its Honeycomb Android 3.0 operating system Wednesday.

Rest assured the stakes are high.

Gallery: Android 3.0 preview screenshots

Live Blog: Android Honeycomb

Here's a look at the backdrop:

Companies such as Samsung have raced to grab market share quickly in the Android tablet market. However, Samsung had to work with a version of Android that wasn't optimized for tablets. Nevertheless, Samsung sold 2 million Galaxy Tabs into the channel and sell-through was smooth. Just last week, Younghee Lee, senior vice president of Samsung's mobile communications business, said the company sold 2 million Galaxy Tabs in the fourth quarter. "In terms of sell-out (actual sales to consumers), we also believe it was quite smooth," said Lee. "We believe as the introduction of new device it was required to have consumers to invest in this new device, so therefore even though sell-out wasn't that fast as we expected we still believe sell-out was quite okay." Samsung declined to give projections for 2011 Galaxy Tab sales.

Samsung's "quite okay" sell-through rates, however, came at a high return rate. The big question is whether these returns hurt the prospects for future sales. Were folks disillusioned with Android tablets overall or just Samsung's? My guess is the latter given Apple has been selling millions of iPads. Android tablet pricing still can't upend the iPad. Apple's aggressive pricing on the iPad has given it a massive lead. Can Honeycomb give manufacturers such as Motorola some wiggle room on pricing? It's possible if Google can highlight some interface that doesn't exist today, but so far Android tablet prices still look too high.

Dell isn't doing the Android tablet market any favors. Dell launched its latest Streak tablet to mixed reviews. We'll let ZDNet's Matthew Miller sum it up:

The Dell Streak 7 has one fatal flaw and that is the resolution of the display. The thing is, the display quality is vital to the usage of a tablet and I personally would never buy one because of the display resolution. Another issue I have with it is the apparent limited battery life and again I want a tablet where I do not have to think about battery life for at least a full, busy day of usage.

Can Honeycomb allay those various concerns about the Android market to date? Perhaps, but the pressure is on.

So far, Honeycomb's demonstrations at CES and in the preview associated with the software developer kit look promising. The rub: We're only seeing what's being highlighted by Google so far. Only after a few Honeycomb tablets hit the market will it be clear whether devices like the Motorola Xoom are truly iPad rivals.

Topics: Hardware, Android, Google, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Samsung, Tablets

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93 comments
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  • Galaxy Tabs didn't sell well

    I am seeing in all of the other articles that the 2 million number was shipped only, the actual sell number was small, and return rates of that small number were 16%! It seems to me that the Tab was NOT successful..
    proeger
    • Dunno about you but the G-Slate looks sweet

      Along with an Atrix like phone on T Mobile.. that would be paradise.

      No other brand (Apple included) offers so much innovation or has for the past few years.

      Android leads, iPhone follows Androids lead, examples are:

      - 3D Screens
      - Larger Screens
      - NFC
      - Hotspot
      - Multitaskting
      - MMS
      - Copy paste

      Apple can't compete, so it will corner the screen market trying to plug the flood of Android phones. But that's like trying to grab water with your hand.
      Uralbas
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @Uralbas
        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH In case you forgot Apple is the reason everyone is rushing to make tablets... just think if Apple hadn't come out with the iPhone where we would be today... still using a stylus lol
        Hasam1991
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @Uralbas 3D screens?
        The Star King
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @Uralbas Agreed. Fanboys will never be convinced but the facts are there.
        blueskip
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @Uralbas I thought iPad had copy/paste and multitasking. Guess I was wrong. But larger screens? Do you really want a screen larger than 10"? I thought that was why the Tab was 7", 'cuz Samsung thought 10" was too big.
        levinson
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @Uralbas @blueskip<br>Hmm, what are Android fanboys called... Droids? <br><br>Does it not bother anyone else that the only way to get feature enhancing OS upgrades on Android is to buy the next generation handset or tablet? The Galaxy has been available less than two months and Honeycomb is not just a software upgrade away? I guess the Android approach to "open" and "open-source" means developers are encouraged to treat existing user- and hardware-bases as disposable. How long will users remain loyal to "innovation" when each iteration relies on a hardware roadmap with a single device. Apple users squeal like stuck pigs when the iOS leaves a device behind. Does Google think Android will be immune to this in the long run?
        steve@...
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @Uralbas
        Agreed on the Atrix 4G. If they produced a snap-in for a tablet, there would be nothing lacking. I was thinking of moving to ChromeOS for 80% of my work, but I'd probably jump at the Atrix if I found it here in Taiwan.
        daengbo
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @Uralbas You are a clueless droid. R2D2 actually makes more sense than you do. LOL. android leads. What a joke.
        rpsin
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @Uralbas Maybe apple can't compete but the much loud product throught out world is Apple and apple don't ave copy/paste option, And moreover fanboys never get convinced. http://www.contussupport.com
        dee.jay
      • Android Leads?

        @Uralbas

        Exactly what planet are living on? Must be planet Google. On planet Earth Apple is crushing the competition. They own a ridiculous 90% of the market. Just when Android might show up to play with Honeycomb, Apple up the challenge with the iPad2.

        Oh, and what about the Android marketplace for tablets, how's that ecosystem working out? The apps for Samsung's offering are what again? (cue the crickets)

        Two years ago tablets were marginal niche products that ran a very special flavor of windows. Despite the best efforts of Redmond and a few manufactures they were going nowhere fast. Then Apple showed the rest of the world how a tablet should work. It took almost a year before the rest of the industry recovered from the shock. Google finally got Honeycomb out, good for them, but iOS is not exactly resting on its laurels. Plus Apple does not have the issue of fragmentation that Android does; remember not all Android devices are created equal. And don't get me started on how Android devices will quickly become commoditized because they have to compete on price with Apple; that will get ugly fast.

        The only reason Android is in the mix is because Redmond got caught flat-footed on the tablet front. They were so busy trying to flog their marginal product that Apple just laid them waste. Balmer's bunch has been reduced to babbling about vaporware on a chip for Tablets as a response to Apple. Google is the new MS in the tablet space: the default setting, the round up the usual suspects go-to.

        Apple has made it extremely difficult for any challenger in the tablet space. They really cut the knees off the competition with the lowest price-point offering. They have economies of scale going for them and yes, they have a lock on supply. But that is business and it ain't beanbag. Both Apple and the suppliers make out on the deal, so why not?

        Apple leads because it cut the Gordian knot on tablet design. It leads on apps because all it had to to was re-purpose iPhone apps to the iPad in the beginning. It leads because it has a compelling product that people will buy. It leads because the rest of IT waits for great and glorious Jobs to hurl his thunderbolts of product design. The situation stinks if you are a thumb-sucking Apple-phobe, but thems the breaks; Apple is the lead dog right now.
        spincitysd@...
    • Deleted NT

      NT
      Uralbas
    • When you have two price drops in a few weeks, your

      sell-through is NOT smooth.
      frgough
    • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

      @proeger
      AT&T Returns Policy & Early Termination Fee
      14 days for tablets
      10% restocking fee applies to all tablet purchases

      Sprint 30-day Satisfaction Guarantee
      Refund monthly charges incurred as part of your service plan*
      Refund the activation fee
      Refund the purchase price of your device
      Waive the Early Termination Fee
      Waive the restocking fee
      Refund taxes and Sprint surcharges associated with the above charges
      man_strosity
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @rueldeleon@... I get it, you are saying that the Tab returns were facilitated by Sprint's generous return policy, while AT&T's strict policy prevented iPad returns, right? Sounds logical, but do you have any actual proof? Maybe a survey of iPad owners who are dissatisfied with the product and would have returned it if they could? A large number on sale on eBay at low prices?
        levinson
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @rueldeleon@...

        Anecdotal proof. I read that from a different user, than researched the policies. I have actually verified the same because I was with AT&T and was going to buy the iPad.

        When I switched to Sprint, since the Tab is on all carriers, I shopped it around to find the best return policy so that I could give it a run.

        That is a big investment for most consumers on a relatively unproven tech. We all know desktops and laptops, but tabs are a different beast.
        man_strosity
      • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

        @rueldeleon@... What does AT&T's or Sprint's return policy have to do with anything when you don't have to buy an iPad from AT&T let alone there would be no ETF since no dataplan is required?
        non-biased
    • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

      @proeger

      Well that is easy to figure out.
      1. The Galaxy Tab was too small
      2. It cost too much.
      3. It required a service contract.
      4. It didn't have honeycomb on it.
      blueskip
  • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

    As a delighted owner of the Galaxy Tab, I completely concur with your comments on the Dell Streak. However, physical display size is also a factor, and I'm not convinced that the Honeycomb "full tablet" model will be a better paradigm on a 7" display than the Tab's blown-up smartphone.

    7" is only about the size of a small paperback - I don't believe it makes sense (for most cases) to sub-divide this into multiple panes.
    dllmr
    • RE: Android Honeycomb's task: Make us forget about first-gen Android tablets

      @dllmr
      I can imagine they'll be both 7inch and 10inch Android Honeycomb tablets.
      ZackCDLVI