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.
See related coverage:
- Android tablets: Motorola XOOM returned, Honeycomb half baked at best
- Dear Google: Here's your roadmap out of Android Honeycomb hell
- Review: Motorola XOOM, brimming with unrealized potential