Google will focus on Android tablet sales this year, as the company strives to make them a cornerstone of its brand and compete against Apple’s iPad.
Android tablet sales are increasing, but there’s still a long way to go, division leader Andy Rubin said at the Mobile World Conference, and this year Google will “double down to win in that space.”
Android is the number-one worldwide smartphone seller worldwide, but tablets’ popularity is surging. The iPad is the undisputed leader in a fiercely competitive market, and Google’s focus to Android tablets may help them stand out as an important part of the developing Google brand.
Apple continues to dominate the tablet market it created. Google sold 12 million tablets so far, not a slump by any means, but a number that positions it far behind iPad, with more than 50 million sold.
The iPad succeeded with a built-in market of users, who flock to Apple’s latest inventions for their seamless integration and trademark aesthetic. Google will pursue a similar promotional strategy to promote its brand, including social network Google+, to its existing Android smartphone consumers, hoping to retain customers within the ecosystem.
Users seeking the latest and greatest in mobile computing are likely to want a tablet, and if they’ve had success with their Android smartphones and can find a correlating tablet, they will be less likely to switch brands and buy an iPad.
The recent Motorola acquisition could boost Android-powered tablet sales, and under Google’s umbrella, lay a solid framework for mobile devices. To the search giant’s credit, Google has many tools to lock in widespread brand loyalty on the device market. Search engine, e-mail and mapping services operate efficiently on Android software, and Google’s ability to deeply integrate its software and services on devices could help it gain traction to the large amount of Android users who want a system of devices that all work well together.
But other tablets challenge the market beyond the iPad, creating credible threats to high-end Android tablets. Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet proved immensely popular during the 2011 holiday shopping season, likely because they cost $250 or less, while the iPad 2 sells for $500 and up.
Microsoft is another possible challenger, with new phones and a strong push on Windows 8 OS as a unifying part of its strategy to get back on top in the device marketplace.
The market will certainly heat up even more when the iPad 3 debuts, along with a new Google-branded Android 7-inch tablet, which are both expected this spring.
The potential for Google to lock in tablet sales with a hot-selling device is huge, but more is at stake than just tablet sales. Tablets could play a key role in rounding out Google’s entire brand and generating corresponding customer loyalty to Android. Rubin says Google will “double down” on tablet pushes, and consumers and the industry will watch to see what tack Google takes in its efforts to succeed.
If Google wants to lure its smartphone users in with a tablet, the device will need to offer an edge over Apple’s sophisticated iPad, or manage to capitalizes and innovates on consumer trends for mobile tablet devices.