Google-branded tablet to target Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire, say sources

“As Google reportedly may launch an own-brand tablet PC to compete against Apple’s iPad, sources from Google’s upstream supply chain believe that Google, instead of Apple, may actually be targeting Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire as its major competitor,” Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai report for DigiTimes.

“The sources believe that Google will launch the own-brand tablet PC in March-April, featuring a 7-inch panel and Android 4.0 with a price less than US$199 to compete against Amazon,” Chen and Tsai report.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a 7-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right: Just 45% as large.

If you take an iPad an hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on these 7-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the ipad’s display. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion. While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size.

Apple has done extensive user testing on touch interfaces over many years and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick, or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps… The 7-inch tablets are tweeners. Too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.

These are among the reasons we think the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA. Dead On Arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the 7-inch bandwagon with an orphaned product.

Sounds like lots of fun ahead.Steve Jobs, October 18, 2010

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Tablet display shootout: Apple iPad ‘excellent,’ Amazon Kindle Fire ‘major flaws’ – December 20, 2011
If Amazon’s Kindle Fire is so hot, why is it still in stock? – December 19, 2011
‘Kindle Fire: The Missing Manual’ author to return Kindle Fire, keep his ‘years ahead’ Apple iPad 2 – December 15, 2011
Amazon touts Kindle e-reader sales with few details – December 15, 2011
Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire’s big security problem – December 14, 2011
Lack of parental controls on Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire lets kids charge up a storm – December 12, 2011
Disgruntled early adopters of Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire have slew of complaints – December 12, 2011
Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire estimated to play distant second fiddle to Apple’s market-dominating iPad – December 6, 2011
Usability expert Jakob Nielsen tests Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire: ‘A disappointingly poor user experience’ – December 5, 2011
Instapaper creator reviews Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire: Bad game player, bad app platform, bad web browser, bad video player and bad Kindle – November 18, 2011
PCWorld reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Flawed, unimpressive, subpar; can’t hold a candle to iPad – November 16, 2011
Mossberg reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Frustrating, clunky, much less capable and versatile than iPad – November 16, 2011
Apple iPad 2 vs. Amazon Kindle Fire: Bootup, browsing, and Netflix streaming (with video) – November 16, 2011
Wired reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Web browsing sucks, emotionally draining, makes reading a chore – November 14, 2011
NY Times’ Pogue reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, ornery, unpolished – November 14, 2011
The Verge reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Uninspired, confusing, incredibly unoriginal – November 14, 2011
Engadget reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, clunky, too limiting and restricted – November 14, 2011

PC Magazine reviews Apple iOS 5: The best phone and tablet OS, Editors’ Choice – October 15, 2011
The Guardian reviews Apple iPad 2: Ahead of the pack – March 25, 2011
The Telegraph reviews Apple iPad 2: Does everything better; now’s the perfect time to join the iPad club – March 25, 2011
Computerworld reviews Apple’s iPad 2: ‘The Holy Grail of computing’ – March 16, 2011
Ars Technica reviews Apple iPad 2: Big performance gains in a slimmer package
Associated Press reviews Apple iPad 2: Apple pulls further ahead – March 10, 2011
PC Mag reviews Apple iPad 2: The tablet to get; Editors’ Choice – March 10, 2011
Associated Press reviews Apple iPad 2: Apple pulls further ahead – March 10, 2011
PC Mag reviews Apple iPad 2: The tablet to get; Editors’ Choice – March 10, 2011
Pogue reviews Apple iPad 2: Thinner, lighter, and faster transforms the experience – March 10, 2011
Baig reviews Apple iPad 2: Second to none – March 10, 2011

26 Comments

  1. I hope they do release a tablet… They have no experience producing or marketing hardware… This will be a debacle worth relishing as they go from we are so excited and proud of our new tablet to we are discounting our 1 month old tablet 50%.

    1. Exactly. Let the losers continue to kill each other and half their own respective market shares…

      While Apple just sits on its throne eating cake and laughing at the rats tussling around on the floor.

  2. I love my iPad 1 & 2 …. Perfect for everything !!

    I am a total Apple follower for over 25 yrs as well … Got them all – ever ” i ” product ever made by apple !!!!

    However, after having both and being a avid reader, I would prefer a smaller screen (lighter weight and easier to hold for hours of reading) …. And I don’t really care about the screen size as it would likely be a dedicated reader and a occasional video / email / Safari tool!!

    I think Apple could control and KILL >> all<< potential newcomers to this whole market space if they had a 7" iPad. IMHO …. Flame on!!!

    1. I agree that there’s a market for a 7ish inch tablet from Apple if only for the lowered price point. Average consumers who have never touched a Mac see Windows budget desktop PC’s for under $500 and scoff at the idea of paying for a tablet at the same price point. They would be more likely be enticed pay for such a tablet in the $200 to $300 price point. This is the market that Apple should try to enter because this is where Android tablets will be.

      I have two instances of friends who have paid crazy low prices for a 7 inch tablet:

      One was a Pandigital 7″ tablet. A friend paid $80 – 90 for it. They justified that it costs 1/5th the cost of an iPad and it was for their child. Guess what? The kid loves it. They have had technical issues getting some apps to work but guess what? They don’t care. lol! The apps that do work keep the kid happy (aka angry birds etc) and the parents saved $400 in the process.

      A while back (the other instance) is a friend who wanted to purchase a tablet but simply didn’t have the cash to ability to save for an iPad. She opted for a Coby tablet she found for $170. Guess what? She loves it lol. She had issues with getting music on the device which took awhile to fix but she doesn’t care. She accesses e-mail, the web & etc and is happy with her purchase.

      Yes there are negatives in buying these products instead of an iPad but THEY DON’T CARE. All they cared about is the price point. They know the iPad is better.

      The whole point I’m trying to make is that the price matters a lot when it comes to tablet devices for the average consumer who’s being hit hard in today’s current economy. It’s easy to scoff at the thought but reality is showing that a subpar tablet will often win in the minds of the consumer when they don’t believe they can afford an iPad.

      This is the reason for a 7ish” iPad tablet. The price point.

      1. Just like the Windows fools and their Netbooks, your friends will be buying a replacement tablet in 6 to 12 months from now.

        They don’t care until they test drive something that just works.

      2. I see ZERO difference between this rationale and, “Apple should sell a dirt cheap desktop to compete with low-end PCs” and “Apple should sell a dirt cheap portable to compete with the glorious NETBOOK”. Apple did neither of these things and what happened — it is continues to dramatically outpace the general PC industry in growth and has become the largest publicly traded company on the planet.

        Core marketing principle — Do NOT try to be everything to everybody.

  3. Refusing to make a 7-inch iPad is working to Apple’s advantage like an Art of War strategy.

    The lack of a 7-inch iPad leads competitors to think iPad has a weakness, and they are seizing the opportunity to attack on the perceived weak spot. But it’s actually a trap – iPad competitors who fall for it and concentrate on 7″ tablets are making products inherently unfit for large UIs with more than one column interfaces.

  4. Oh boy…can’t wait for the new Googlet or whatever they will call it. My neighbour is an Android fanatic so it will be fun to have both in hand to compare an iPad with a Google tablet.

    My wife has the Kindle and she loves it (not the fire). Why? Because you can read it in sunlight with their ink display. If Apple won’t make a dedicated reader with this technology because there is no profit in it even if it is somewhat better than the Kindle.
    If somehow Apple was able to invent a technology that you mimic Kindle’s ink screen for daylight reading and then switch back to the normal iPad screen….then boom…goodbye all e-readers out there. Until then most of us will buy both…the kindle for reading and the iPad for everything else.

    1. I don’t know about your wife, but it is clear to me that vast majority of people who consider Kindle’s “e-ink” display good have actually fallen for Amazon’s marketing schpiel.

      Vast majority of people read books indoors (after all, we only spend a few weeks per year vacationing on beeches…). The number of good, sunny weekends people spend outdoors reading is practicallyl negligible.

      Kindle’s ‘e-ink’ screen is NOT black-on-white; it is black-on-grey (and that grey is actually not such a bright shade of grey). In order to read on Kindle, one needs GOOD light source. I often see kindle-reading people on NYC subway leaning towards light sources, clearly struggling to see under sub-optimal lighting conditions.

      What I’m saying is, the ‘e-ink’ is seriously inferior to back-lit LED LCD displays of iPad (and ‘Fire’) for vast majority of common reading environments. That so many people are convinced otherwise is a true testament to Amazon’s marketing success with their campaign.

      1. Prefag, you are not mentioning the other main advantage of e-ink – incredible battery life. Kindles go for months of use without recharging. Keeping an image on screen requires no battery power on an e-ink screen, unlike an iPad. You can even yank the battery out and the e-ink screen won’t go blank.

        I’m sure Apple is interested in e-ink technology, both for its battery life and readability. I think as soon as Apple perfects combining e-ink with a conventional full color LCD display (and multi-touch), they will release a product that can switch between e-ink and regular LCD display. The switch will probably be automatic, to keep things simple for the user. For example, an ebook reader would switch to e-ink when viewing black and white pages, but a video player will always display in full color LCD.

        I don’t think there’s ever going to be an iOS device with an e-ink only display. It’s not good for video or animation or websites, and those features are just too important in iOS.

        1. kayan, I agree. Kindle does have its advantages

          Predrag, I tend to disagree as a lot of people, in the cottage country, like to read on weekends and during the day (sun or cloud) and if the weather is inclement, inside a porch. As for being inside, since many are used to paper books, they still have a habit of reading under a strong lamp so the kindle fits in nicely in many environments. It is a niche product so if you can buy it for $100 and can download books wirelessly and can run for centuries on a few moving battery electrons, it is attractive to many people (they do sell well and unlike products like other tablets or Zunes etc, I have seen a number of kindles in the wild).
          As I said earlier, if Apple can somehow find a way to incorporate that into an existing product (iPad), then people will choose an iPad over the kindle. Others, who are not interested in an iPad (I cannot imagine that some exist) or those who only want a device for reading, they will buy the kindle only. In the long run, a dual function iPad will hurt Amazon and all tablet makers (until they steal Apple’s idea and incorporate it into their own products).

  5. Less than $199? I do not believe it. Does not make sense.
    Amazon can do this because the will make it up on their content ecosystem. If this is true Google going to take a bath on it like all the others.

  6. App doesn’t care about selling 7 inch tablets, it’s not who they are. They don’t make crap for people who don’t know better- they make insanely great stuff for people who can’t imagine it themselves.

    1. So why would a 7.85″ iPad be crap, when an iPhone with it’s much smaller screen isn’t? I can’t afford an iPad, and it’s really too big for practical carrying, and I have my phone anyway, and a Mac Mini with a 40″ monitor at home. However, a 7.85″ iPad would be perfect for me. I read a lot, and that size screen is exactly the same size as a regular paperback book. I also walk and ride a lot and I have a very large number of British Ordnance Survey 1:50k and 1:25k maps, and again, the iPhone screen is a bit small but a 7.85″ iPad matches pretty much the size of an open folded map. In-car satnav would be vastly improved with a bigger screen on a device that could be practically used in a car, unlike a regular iPad. Give me an opportunity to buy a 7.85″ iPad, Apple, and I’ll be first in the queue.

  7. One important point is missing from this analysis: the real reason why Google is doing this.

    They pretty much have to, if they want Android to remain viable as a tablet OS.

    Amazon’s Kindle Fire is almost certain to become the best-selling Android tablet out there, which would be horrible for Android and Google because the Fire’s OS is barely Android. It’s heavily modified, has it’s own proprietary UI which is nothing like the standard Android UI, and won’t run all apps.

    Google has to get out ahead of this, or else risk Amazon defining the Android experience on tablets, which is an experience which can’t compete with iOS for serious tablet users.

    In short, this is a desperation move.

    ——RM

  8. Amazon v. Google?

    My money is on Amazon. Amazon is much more the ecosystem & consumer oriented company, in an imitation of Apple. Google is for geeks; they have no ecosystem so their consumer facing experience will suck.

    Bezos is known for taking a long term view on products, and willing to wait years for the profit. (Much to the annoyance of stockholders. What otehr company do we know that doesn’t care what stockholders think?) Google, the perpetual Beta, drops that which does not wildly succeed in its first year or so.

    And before you give me the old claptrap about the Fire selling for less than it costs, every Fire is a very strong push for Amazon Prime, at $80/year. Lots of free movies, videos, and books makes that a very attractive offer. Once someone signs up, they’ll come back year after year. Amazon will more than recoup any losses on the Fire hardware. In short, it’s the old razor and blades business model.

    My brother, an IT geek, won a Color Nook in some contest. He & his wife liked it enough to buy a second one. That’s the mentality that will help Amazon win.

  9. Google, instead of Apple, may actually be targeting Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire as its major competitor

    Advice to Google:
    Seeing as I have never had a death wish for you, I am going to suggest that you skip that market rather than waste your money. Please note how Amazon sell the Kindle Fire AT A LOSS. Therefore, you would be competing in a market that HAS NO PROFIT and in fact would be red-lined in your accounts. At least Amazon make a profit selling books to read on the Kindle Fire. What exactly would Google be selling? I don’t think selling marketing data about your tablet users is going to cover the costs.

    Please think about it. 😉

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