Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

Summary: You'd think Google would be doing everything it could to get tablets going powered by Honeycomb, but in my view it is failing in a very significant way.


A lot of ink has been spilled about the failings of the Android tablet in the market. The Motorola XOOM has been a failed first product intended to showcase Google's version of Android that is optimized for tablets. Google threw Android under the proverbial bus by stating that versions of the OS prior to Honeycomb were just not good enough to run tablets. You'd think Google would be doing everything it could to get Honeycomb tablets high on consumer's buy lists, but in my view it is failing in a very significant way.

Whatever you think about Honeycomb in its current state, Google understands that having apps optimized for the tablet form is crucial for acceptance by consumers. Apple understood that with the iPad, and did a decent job making sure that there were significant apps in the App Store on launch day to get things started. Google, even with the advantage of having seen it done right, hasn't done that. It not only hasn't done enough to get developers to produce apps for Honeycomb, it's even impeded that effort by refusing to release the code that is Honeycomb.

It's no wonder that there are no significant tablet apps for Android in the Market given the state of support by Google. Worse, even though Google has as much to lose as anyone due to a lack of Honeycomb apps, it hasn't produced any itself. We tend to overlook that Google writes a lot of software, so why hasn't it filled Honeycomb tablets with solid apps of its own?

Just this week Google released an Android app to support Google Docs. While I am happy as an Android user to see this released, it is totally a missed opportunity for Google and the tablet. Why on earth wasn't this a complete tablet solution for Google Docs? The larger form of the tablet is perfect for working with documents, far more so than smartphones, so why wasn't a cool version of Google Docs for Honeycomb tablets released? If Google isn't willing to put in the time and effort to promote its own services on its own mobile platform in a way that sends a solid message that its serious about Honeycomb tablets why should anyone else?

There should be apps for Honeycomb that blow everything else away when it comes to working with Gmail, Google Calendar and Contacts. There is a decent Gmail app for Honeycomb, but not something mind-blowing. The calendar app on the XOOM, however, is the worst mobile calendar app I have ever seen, on any platform. It is a total embarrassment to the platform. Google should have produced a suite of Honeycomb apps that makes everyone who uses Google services rush out an buy a tablet just for the apps. The omission is a total failure on Google's part.

Google has taken a very narrow view of what it needs to do for Honeycomb, and has restricted its coding to the OS itself. The many reviews of Honeycomb that report how half-baked it is demonstrate that Google has so far failed to produce a solid platform for the tablet. That failure is clear in the market for Android tablets, with not a single successful tablet either available or in the works.

Given the state of Honeycomb as a platform, and Google's failure to produce decent apps of its own, it is no wonder developers are not rushing to produce Honeycomb apps. There's no indication there will be a return for such effort any time soon, so who can blame them? Unfortunately, that doesn't bode well for the viability of Honeycomb devices in the near future. There must be apps for Android tablets for them to have a chance in the market. Google should be releasing its own Honeycomb apps every week until consumers swoon with desire for an Android tablet. No one else is doing it, and it's not clear anyone will. Google is failing its own platform, and inexcusably.

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

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  • Mostly agree

    However, I think this statement is completely wrong...

    "It not only hasn?t done enough to get developers to produce apps for Honeycomb, it?s even impeded that effort by refusing to release the code that is Honeycomb..."

    Application don't, and shouldn't need the underlying source code for the operating system. It's nice in certain scenarios, but not required. If that argument held up, Apple developers would have an impossible task of developing for the iPad.
    • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

      Totally agreed.
      Ram U
      • Still, Android 3.* ecosystem will be much bearable by the end of this year

        @Rama.NET: normal common people will not have real choice before that (basically they have to choose iPad 2 because of 75 000 applications and overall platform smoothness).

        Let's see how Google will improve within few nearest quarters.
      • Google ain't has no platform gene

        It's one thing to pump HTML5 bubble to fool those cheap two-bit hustling Javascript hackers into thinking themselves as developers, it's completely another to build a tablet platform robust enough to attract professional developers.
      • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

        @denisrs<br>Yes. Apple has built an ecosystem of development and Google just copied it. They never really understood the architecture of that developer ecosystem. Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Oracle (including Sun) really know this. <br><br>The issue here is Google really never focused on building it from the foundation. They just thought Open Source and Java communities are enough to tap into and planned that ecosystem would eventually be Google's. But that really never worked out, of course I know they have 100,000+ apps, but do they have common user experience across the apps, which Google forgot define or never really learned when they copied from Apple. Common user experience is the key for mobile apps, because mobile app users don't have to spend more time in learning something new everytime. Which Microsoft forgot to add in WM and now they realized and see WP7, which has solid User Experience. Governance of app ecosystem is another thing. Apple and Microsoft have this, but where as that in Android! Having a larger market or appstore or whatever is not important, but having solid apps that respect the users is important, and for that a constant watch and rules and governance around it are totally required.
        Ram U
    • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

      @Yensi717 Agreed, I think that Google's habit of duplicating (to put it politely) the code of the most successful apps has more do to with their lack of developers than their refusing to release the source code for their "open" source platform.
      • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

        What apps did Google "duplicate?" That makes no sense. Google produces few apps, and they basically relate to Google products.
      • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

        Google could not duplicate apps even if they wanted. Not only that would be so intensive it would not be worth it, but applications are protected by copyrights held by the application developing company... If you have angry birds on both Android and iOS it's because Rovio made its code executable on both platforms.

        Your statement is a huge surreal stretch even for the most hard-core of iOS fans.

        You gotta gat off that crack pipe man! No, really it's not good for you! ;P
    • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet


      Access to the source should not be necessary, but haven't you noticed? Google Android programmers themselves often say, "look at the source", especially for answering questions that should have been answered in the Javadocs (but are not).
    • Another sad excuse for a tech news article.

      @Yensi717 Agree +1!

      Another sad excuse for a tech news article. And just for the record the fact that "developers are not rushing to produce Honeycomb apps" has nothing to do with "the state of Honeycomb as a platform" nor with the underlying source code. Please do not misrepresent reality Mr. Kendrick and spread false information. As a journalist (not a blogger) you have the responsibility of what you publish so try to stick with facts and less personal opinion or at least support personal opinions with points that make sense and are based in reality no speculations. I would agree if you said that it's unlikely that devs would jump on Honeycomb because of the current limited reach due to iPad still having a strong and large user base. But can't agree with all your rants and your lack of vision. If you were Steve Jobs and had this attitude throughout the development if iOS that OS and devices would have never seen the light of the day.

      You article sadly adds very little... the only thing it may achieve is to add gasoline to fuel the parade of anti-android parade which onto itself I find simply nonsensical as much as the anti-iOS parades.

      Maybe next time you sit down to write an article try to be less of a Debby-Downer and more of an impartial reporter. We will all thank you about it as such articles would not be wasting the time it takes to read and to write a reply in the comments that one feels compelled to write although we know that hardly anyone will ever read them or give a dang about it. Cheers!
  • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

    Based on my hands-on experience with the Xoom, I have to say, unfortunately, you are spot-on. Like the G1 phone, I had expected updates to wring out all the issues within weeks of launch. They never came and there isn't a date for the update.
    • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

      @patrick.moorhead@... You expected this even though they promised it within 90 Days? We're just over 60 now.
      • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

        @Peter Perry ...The article is write about one thing. The Google produced apps should have blown everyone away without question. I have a Xoom and I am pleased with it, but only because of my dislike for the closed system of Apple. The argument makes sense for developers to find it difficult to get too excited when Google hasn't done a whole lot themselves.
      • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

        Why is everyone so hung up on apps?

        I have been using iPad for several months now and routinely compare it to my ASUS UL - I am looking to see what I can do on my iPad that I don't have to cart around the ASUS.
        I'll be getting a Android tablet and will do the same.

        Interestingly I have noticed one big - huge - gargantuan issue:
        on my ASUS - they are bookmarks and generally free
        on my iPad - they are apps and I have usually had to buy them

        Based on that alone -
        1. my cost of ownership is higher on the iPad

        I would expect I can do more of the Bookmark on the Android than the app.....
  • Hey dude, relax !!!!

    The tablet transition is going to be a looooong one, and it will take its time, what's the hurry ??
    • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet


      No hurry, as long as you haven't bought one ;)
    • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

      @progresivo@... They have to hurry because Windows 8 is scaring the bejesus out of them
      • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

        @hubivedder , just as apple and google are pooing their pants with the unstopable advance of windows phone 7... /sarcasm
    • Blind Android Fanatics

      Google doesn't have anything to worry about.<br>Android fanatics are worse than Apple fans when it comes to wearing blinders. <br>I've spent a year in Android forums listening to folks praising Android, no matter how buggy. Everytime the hardware or software failed to deliver, the response is always the same... "at least it does Flash and has an SD slot." Flash and a slot seem to be more important than all the other headaches they're willing to put up with.<br>Honestly, how far will these fans allow this to go on before they've had enough?
      • RE: Google has failed the Honeycomb tablet

        @camcost@... Android users understand that when you are dealer with many different manufacturers there are bound to be glitches. I have used a Samsung galaxy S and a Xoom with no issues. I haven't been to the forums too much because I have been to busy putting my Android products to work. No device is perfect even Apple. If it were then Apple wouldn't need to update it. :)