Nexus 10: Google declares tablet war on iPad

Nexus 10: Google declares tablet war on iPad

Summary: The search giant has finally built a 10-inch Android device of its very own to compete directly with Apple's flagship tablet.


On Monday morning in New York City, Google was expected to host a major Android-related event. Because Hurricane Sandy was barrelling up the coast threatening the eastern seaboard, that event was cancelled.

Instead of postponing the event, Google simply announced a series of new Android products on its web site. Google released the next iteration of its Android operating system, version 4.2, along with an updated version of their Nexus 7 with more memory and mobile data options.

But the crown jewels in the subtle 'non-event' announcement was the release of a new budget-conscious handset made by LG Electronics known as the Nexus 4, and also a full size tablet known as the Nexus 10.

While there have been a number of 10-inch Android tablets released into the market over the last two years by its OEM partners -- not limited to Motorola, Asus, Acer, Sony, and Samsung -- Google had yet to go to market with a full-sized tablet of its own branding that would directly compete with Apple's iPad.

The Nexus 10 is significant in that it is a full "Google Experience" device, in that all aspects of the operating system and software that is loaded onto the tablet is under Google's control, which means it should get software updates much faster than OEM 10-inch Android tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Asus Transformer.

It is also the first Android tablet which truly represents a direct challenge to Apple's iPad, which has sold 100 million units as of early October, according to the Cupertino, CA.-based technology giant. 

The tablet has been released in partnership with Samsung Electronics, who has manufactured the device, and as such is meant to set the benchmark for which all future Android tablets will be judged. 

In addition to the "Nexus" moniker which sets the tablet apart from its rivals, the Nexus 10 is of 100 percent Samsung design, in that it uses virtually all components from the Korean electronics giant, including their own System on a Chip (Soc), memory, flash storage, batteries and display, achieving a level of vertical integration previously unheard of on Android tablet. 

The display, a 2560x1600 resolution, 10-inch LCD, actually surpasses Apple's own Retina display in resolution with 300 pixels-per-inch (ppi), which is still a very impressive 2048x1536 at 264 ppi, both exceeding the 1080p display standard (1920x1080) on high-definition television sets.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Samsung-manufactured display unit on the Nexus 10 matches the luminosity or readability of the iPad, and whether the average end-user can actually tell the difference in terms of sharpness.

The Nexus 10 (16GB) will cost $399, a full $100 less than Apple's 9.7" 16GB high-end iPad with Retina display -- dubbed the iPad 4, and the same price as their best-selling iPad 2.

It's smack-bam in the middle of Apple's pricing model. While this undercuts Apple by a significant margin, it was probably within Google's and Samsung's capabilities to further reduce the price of the device at launch (perhaps to $329 or $350) as well as provide the buyer with perks that would have given signficant value-add and made the product an even more compelling buy.

For example, the Nexus 10 could have been launched with two years of free 100GB of Google Drive storage and 10 Gogoinflight passes, as the recently released ARM-based Samsung Chromebook was just over a week ago.

While the hardware is definitely a shot across Apple's bow, Google still needs to overcome a number of issues that have plagued Android tablets in general in order to pose a serious threat to the tablet market leader, which include a lack of tablet-optimized applications, user-friendliness and overall device performance. 

On Monday, Google said it has matched Apple in the number of apps in its rival Google Play application store for Android devices, according to Bloomberg. That said, very few can even take advantage of the Nexus 10's higher-resolution display, leaving many Android non-smartphone users in the lurch.

Topics: Google, Android, Mobile OS


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Nice

    It might now be a little harder to sell an Ipad or a Surface.
    • Jason again with his anti-Android stance

      His comment, "It is also the first Android tablet which truly represents a direct challenge to Apple's iPad..." Is completely subjective and disingenuous, but he knows this and only does it to get attention. Still it's important to call him on it.

      If anything, the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity, was the first tablet o pose a direct challenge to the iPad in every category including the screen. If you take the screen out of the comparison equation, there are a whole host of tablets that represent a direct challenge including the slightly older Transformer Prime.

      Jason claims not to have an Apple bias, but he certainly has an anti Android bias.
  • Just another Android tablet

    I really want an Android tablet to succeed, but they are all the same. Slow, laggy and poor apps. Even the mainstream apps do not look as good on Android as they do on other OS's.

    I had the Note 10.1 and thought I finally had an Android tablet I would keep; but it was just too buggy. Android still has work to do on the UI. While I love my GNex and Jelly Bean, it still is not that user friendly. Google knows it has work to do still. Give it another year and I think we'll see some kick a** Android tablets and apps.
    • Must be your apple bias

      My Galaxy Tab 10.1 has performed flawlessly since I bought it. Then again you are complaining the Nexus 10 is slow and buggy without even seeing it in person, so who really cares what you have to say.
      • Confused

        NickA55 didn't say he had the Nexus 10. Re-read his comment and you will see he clearly discussing his experience with the Note 10.1. He even said he wants the Android platform to succeed, so where is the Apple bias in that? At the end of the day these are just gadgets anyway and none of these companies are paying you for your why the emotion?
      • Timmah! Timmah, Timmah!

        So anyone who doesn't like Android automatically has an Apple bias? Wow, just wow...

        Let me recap what NickA55 said since obviously you did not get it: He has a Samsung NOTE 10.1 (Not a Tab, not an iPad, not a Xoom, not a Nexus 10). He said his NOTE 10.1 is not that user friendly. He said that Android has slow, laggy, and poor apps. He said the mainstream apps do not look as good as they do on other OSs - not iOS in particular. He aslo said he wants to see Android succeed. IOW you need to drop the blinders and actually read the posts rather than acting as a screaming frothing at the mouth die hard fAndroid zealot...

        Now I AM an iOS proponent - don't confuse me with an frothing at the mouth Apple zealot because I admit that iOS has it's flaws and I use other platforms... such as Android. I currently use an iPhone 4S with iOS 6, an HTC Thunderbolt running Gingerbread 2.3.4, and a rooted Nook Color running Gingerbread 2.3.7 cyanogenmod7. I also happen to agree with most of what NickA55 said as far as the apps. They are slow, laggy, in some cases poor, and in most cases do not look as polished as their iOS counterparts. Note that does not mean I hate Android - it is a decent OS but Google allowed the carriers entirely too much control over updates and content as far as the extra added carrier crapware. They also allowed the OEMs to have too much control over the UI and their own added stuff. However they also allowed a level of customization that iOS lacks.
    • Still now user friendly? What does that even mean?

      Statements like that is why people say you're full of it. I have a Transformer Pad Infinity running Jellybean and it's fantastic. The combination of this tablet with the keyboard dock is the best tablet setup around bar none.
  • Specs war are just marketing gimmicks

    Specs war are just marketing gimmicks. There is nothing in the market that beats Surface.
  • How about tablet optimized music. You bought it you own it on every device

    It's not about the device it's about all your stuff available to you on your cloud.

    Apple rents your stuff back to you. MS wants a 99 year lease. Only Google thinks your stuff should help you find what you seek.
    • So you can tell me for sure

      That Google does not have the right to yank media and/or apps from your device at any time without any sort of warning or explanation? There is also some things you overlook about Apple's implementation of iTunes Match - Apple matches 25,000 songs in your music library - no matter what the source. So if you have pirated music and you use Match and Apple has a copy in their music library then it's legit and is accessible to your device from anywhere. And did I mention it's 25,000 songs as opposed to Google's 10,000? Not that Apple's implementation is better than Google's - but there are differences.
      • So what?

        The issue is that with Android you can get data on and off your mobile device through multiple ways. Not just one way as with Apple. It's probably why they don't put NFC on their devices because that would give users yet another way to move data on and off.

        And we all know NFC is on many Android devices as we speak.
  • Good job Samsung

    Stick it to Apple. They made you pay billions and now you have to chance to stop giving them the best retina displays so that you can use it in your own devices. Just make sure the patents work out this time. Since Apple already did the marketing for retina this is perfect chance to piggy back on that publicity to sell your device.
    • So

      Apple designs the Retina display, trademarks it, and uses Samsung to manufacture it and you advocate Samsung using Apple's Retina Display IP in their devices to stick it to Apple for suing Samsung for using Apple's IP in their older devices? Did I follow your logic correctly? Such an act would put Samsung back in court for using Apple's IP... Why can't Samsung just design and use their own displays since according to you fAndroids they are superior to Apple's Retina Display?
      • Lol

        Design? Trademark? Lol. The LCD manufacturers will make whatever you ask them to for anyone with the money. Retina is just a buzz word that apple applied to high res screens. Sort of like that "HD" crap. Now that Apple has convinced customers that its cool to pay extra for a high end LCD, other makers are of course going to supply what customers are willing to buy now.

        On the other hand this is good for all computer users. Resolutions and screen quality has been going to crap for years. The common trend has been poor TN panels at low resolution for the sheer cheapness of it. In most cases it was the ONLY thing you could get. A move towards high res IPS screens is good for us all. There are places to cut corners, but screen quality, the thing you stare at the whole time, is not one of them.
      • Apple own the word Retina

        That's all. Samsung can make what they want with the patents they have. They are doing the very clever bit - making it in economic quant-i ties.
        • Best you check out the Word Retina!

          Seems to be a latin word and in general use for many years.

          Provided a link for your reference!
          • You seriously telling me

            that you thought I did not know a common word like retina? Its been in use since Aristotle kicked off evidence based science!
            I mean that they have adopted it for their marketing lead expression of their screen pixel denisty.

            As a European I can do that word in 4 languages - which helps me understand it is in regular use. Thats my reference.

            Or were you joking?
      • Let me follow YOUR logic...

        Apple buys the 'retina' screens from Samsung, as well as LG (for everything except the iPad).

        So, Samsung designing their own screen which beat those specifications... is Copyright infringement?

        Did I follow that?

        "Why can't Samsung just design and use their own displays"?? They did... it beats Apples retina, by the numbers anyway. And that isn't because I am a 'fAndroid' (although, I am, because I refer the OS), it is simply *FACT*.

        That being said, I think we are at the limit of what can really be done with display resolution... after you get the screen so fine grained that you can't see the pixels, anything more is pointless.

        I would really rather somebody do something about this horrid 1366 x 768 crap that is on most laptops.
        • You are aware that

          a patent covers HOW you do something, right? And just because you contract someone else to make your design doesn't mean you sign the patent over to them.

          Grow up. If you were the inventor of a retina display technology, you'd be first in line filing lawsuits against Samsung if they did what you advocate.
          • "retina display technology" doesn't exist

            AFAIK, "retina display" isn't a technology, but a marketing term to design a screen resolution that is high enough to match (or surpass) eye's capacity to discern individual pixels. As such, it might ber copyrighted, but not patented.