Google's Nexus 7: where will it fit in a maturing tablet market?

By Peter Gothard
28 Jun 2012 View Comments

The Nexus 7 is on sale online on Google Play Store right now, and hits retail stores on 27 July 2012. By comparison, Surface won't, ahem, surface until autumn at the earliest (and that's just the RT version), and iOS 6 will be showing up around the same time to inject some extra value into existing Apple devices.

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Nexus 7 is also set to go toe-to-toe with Amazon's Kindle Fire and its forthcoming followup; not much of an issue for UK buyers, as the stacked e-reader still hasn't appeared on these shores.

Google really does have all to play for, but it just needs to keep its eye on a couple of things in order to make Nexus 7 a genuine contender.

First of all, it needs to overcome Android's traditionally sloppy UI and provide something slick, functional and believably self-contained within this tablet. Hands-on experience with the device at yesterday's reveal suggests there's still some work to do in this regard.

But more importantly, it needs to start making Android a believable, less fragmented platform for business. Apple can boast that "there's an app for that", and Surface will slip easily into the Microsoft ecosystem of Office tools, cloud and web-based communications.

The act of releasing an own-brand tablet could let Google hammer a standard onto its ragtag, multi-developer Nexus family, and on Android itself here.

At the end of the day, as Google perhaps intended with the Android platform in the first place, Nexus 7 will live or die by its software base. While Android's car boot sale of an application structure works for many tastes in the consumer market, a more defined, conservative approach will be required to help the Google tablet truly flourish in the business arena.

Project Glass – Google's wearable augmented reality technology that overlays app-like interfaces and features over the world in front of the wearer's face – also shows that Google is looking much further ahead than most in the field of mobile technology.

But with a 2013 release and fearsome $1,500 (£966) price tag, don't expect to see this technology hitting your local high street anytime soon.

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