Google's 7-inch Android tablet should be $149, not $199

Google's 7-inch Android tablet should be $149, not $199

Summary: Price trumps specification, and this is why I think that Google should shave the spec in order to bring the price down to a more competitive $149.

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Rumors are circulating that Google, in association with ASUS, is preparing to unveil a 7-inch Android-powered tablet called the Nexus 7 at this week's Google I/O Conference. If this tablet is to be a success, Google needs to get the price right.

According to the rumors, the tablet will be powered by a 1.3Ghz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, with a 12-core Nvidia GeForce graphics processor unit powering a 1280×800 IPS display and 1GB of RAM. The rumored tablet will come in two storage options at two price points, 8GB for $199 and 16GB for $249. The operating system is rumored to be Android 4.1 'Jelly Bean,' about which we know very little.

On paper, the Nexus 7 spec -- assuming they are correct -- look good and gives it a significant advantage over other tablets in a similar price bracket, such as Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's NOOK tablet.

But the problem is the price puts the tablet in the same category as the Amazon Kindle Fire, currently the bestselling Android tablet by a significant margin, owning over 54 percent of the market. Given that the Kindle Fire isn't the only Android tablet with a $199 price tag, Amazon clearly has the secret sauce required to essentially annihilate the competition. Part of that secret sauce is undoubtedly the price, but the Amazon brand, combined with the popularity of the Kindle platform, has undoubtly played a significant part in the success of this tablet.

One factor that doesn't seems to play much of a part in the success or failure of tablets seems to be the hardware specification. I've seen high-spec tablets vanish into obscurity while other, not-so-high-speced tablets have flourished.

Price trumps specification, and this is why I believe that Google needs to shave the spec in order to bring the price down from $199 to a more competitive $149.

Could Google do this? Of course it could.

Drop the Tegra 3 silicon in favor of a dual-core OMAP4470 ARM Cortex processor, and then replace the 1280×800 IPS display for a 1024x600 Pixel Qi panel and we're already well on the way to making a cheaper tablet. Throw in a Google subsidy -- and why not, given that last year Google was pulled in some $2.5 billion in ad revenue from the platform -- and we have a price-point that puts significant pressure on Amazon's Kindle Fire.

One question remains -- can Google make 7-inch tablets suck less in the usability department than the current crop of tablets do?

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

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46 comments
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  • Drop the camera

    please
    kaur
    • I'll +1 that for a dollar

      I don't need a rear facing camera on a tablet.
      wright_is
      • I wish it was rear-facing ...

        I've got an application for my company that needs a rear-facing camera (but has no need for a front-facing one). But, according to the other news reports, the tablet will have just a front-facing camera.
        bkshort@...
    • Keep the Camera

      The advantage of this one over the Kindle Fire will be the ability to Skype with it -- and yes, those I know who are looking at getting a new tablet want to Skype with it while traveling..... so it matters.
      mebekili
  • could Google make them suck less? yes, drop Android, then they won't need a

    quad core. If they stick with Android they should make the 8G one $79 and the 16G $129
    Johnny Vegas
    • Right

      Weren't you the guy that said Windows Phone didn't need dual core processors... Guess what, apparently it does or the lumia 900 wouldn't be obsolete.
      slickjim
      • Oh, come on, it's not obsolete

        I bought the Lumia 900 and love it. The new phones aren't out until this fall, and when they do come out, the Windows Phone 7.5/7.8 OS will be well supported with new apps for quite a while.

        Considering it's $0.99 on Amazon, there's not a big reason not to buy a Lumia 900 today, and just pay the early upgrade penalty in a year.
        webmaster@...
  • You guys kill me

    You bloggers make these claims like you have just come off a successful run of selling your own tablets. Maybe you guys should get paid less because, I guarantee you Google's Tablet is going to be closer to its price point than your articles ever will be.
    slickjim
    • The irony is

      You just paid him. ZDNet bloggers are paid by number of posts, because that's the number of people who are exposed to the ads and the real reason ZDNet exists. I also suspect that the new method of rating posts also pays them. Even if you just dislike a post, it's probably money in the bank for Adrian et al.

      We basically can't win and our outrage just fuels their bank balance ;-(
      tonymcs@...
  • So build your own tablet.

    Nobody is stopping you.

    And that goes double for the other commenters too.
    symbolset
  • So what your saying is...

    So what your saying is, make the tablet suck so that you can save 50 dollars.
    CPPCrispy
    • Whipsawed

      That's kind of what I heard, too. And that's weird, because every third article on ZDNet right now is about the new tablet that Microsoft felt obligated to make because all their OEMs do these days is peddle lowball crap. Supposedly the whole purpose of Microsoft's tablet is to show OEMs how to do it right. And yet the advice for Google is just the opposite: go make lowball crap.
      Robert Hahn
      • If anything ...

        ... based on what was said during the demo, the MS Surface is schedule to be expensive .... because a "price comparable to ULTRABOOKS" means ~$1K price tag.
        wackoae
      • Umm no...

        Wackoae The ultrabooks are coming down to $799 and the that version of Surface was the core i5 Tablet. At no point in time did they indicate that the Windows RT Tablet would cost that much.
        slickjim
  • Welcome to the tablet price wars.... It's going to be a BLAST!

    To watch at least I for one would not want to be an OEM in this game. Google and Android have the advantage here cause they can at least HOPE to make some profit in after market sales of stuff like I hear google is setting up an Amazon like on-line store along with it's iTUnes like offerings. They can sell for less than profitable of the tablets and hope to make it up on after sales other OEM's don't stand a chance and will slowly die on the vine.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • 7 inch size does NOT mean low end!!!

    Why do people keep assuming that the 7 inch form factor means the tablet is a low-end budget tablet? I much prefer the 7 inch screen size over 10, as it's much more portable, but I still want high-end specs. Sure a 7 inch tablet shouldn't cost $500, but there's no reason why it shouldn't have good internals. You couldn't get me to buy a nexus tab with a dual core processor after seeing how much better android performs with a tegra 3. And seriously, $50 isn't that much extra, especially when the tablet will be twice as good.
    iamtheteam
    • Perhaps because the only successful tablets

      At this form factor are distinguished only by their low price- the Kindle Fire and the Nook are low-end Android tablets chiefly distinguished by their low prices ($199-249) NOT their technology, which is decidedly low end. Higher end 7-inchers are not being sold in any quantities.
      ssaha
      • Hopefully

        Well hopefully with Nvidia's new/cheaper Tegra 3's that will change. What I'm wondering though is why even with the specs that people are guessing are in this tablet (the Tegra 3, 1 gb ram, 720p screen, etc) people are still treating it like its a low end product, and that it should lose some of those specs to be even more low-end so it could be cheaper.
        iamtheteam
  • specs matter

    $199 is a perfect price.
    joeltang
    • agreed

      if $199 is retail, then isn't $149-179 street price?

      I'm more than willing to pay that... whining because something great doesn't cost $50 is insane. meanwhile a comparable Apple device costs at least $400.
      bri719