4 Mobile Business Models, 4 Ways To Keep Score

The hundred meter dash, archery, weightlifting and the long jump are four very different Olympic sports with four very different methods of keeping score. The hundred meter dash is scored on speed. Archery is scored on accuracy. Weightlifting is scored on strength. The long jump is scored on distance. You don’t judge the participants in the hundred yard dash by how much weight they can lift. That would be the wrong way to measure them.

“…looking at ‘smartphone share’ or ‘profit share’ or ‘platform share’ all tell you something about the industry, but all three metrics mislead you if you try to treat them as a way to see who’s ‘winning’, because ‘winning’ means different things for Apple, Samsung or Google. After all, Google may well still make more money from searches on iOS than it does from searches on Android.” ~ Ben Evans, On market share

Hardware manufacturing, advertising, “razors-and-blades” content sales, and platforms are four very different business models and they have four very different methods of keeping score too.

You don’t take the metrics used to measure one business model and apply them to another business model. That would be the wrong way to measure them.

Each business model demands its own specific forms of scoring. The goal should be to devise, discover, or discern a form of measurement that properly and accurately reflects how a business is performing in the business model in which it is participating.

Biathlons, Triathlons and Decathlons are all unusual Olympic events in that they group together several disparate sports and then determine an overall winner. Think of Apple, Google, Samsung, and Amazon as Olympic teams that compete with one another in the four interrelated mobile business models – hardware manufacturing, advertising, “razors-and-blades” content sales, and platforms – a sort of Quadrathlon. Each team has its strengths and its weaknesses, each team wants to win the events that they’re best at and maximize their score in the other events in order to win the overall Quadrathlon.

Let the games begin!

Hardware Manufacturing

Last week I tried to explain how using only market share to analyze mobile hardware manufacturing was not only the wrong way to keep score of that business model but that it was actually obscuring the real score.

“The truth is that focusing on market share as the primary metric is the only way to paint the iPhone as anything other than a roaring success.” ~ John Gruber

I suggested an alternative measurement known as the “Fair share profit analysis,” in order to generate some perspective but, truth be told, the only real way to accurately “score” who’s winning in hardware manufacturing is with net hardware profits. When it comes to selling mobile hardware, do Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, etc. really care what their market share is? No they do not. That’s the top line, a means to an end. The only thing that matters when they are selling mobile hardware is profit. That’s the bottom line, the end for which the means were made. Market share is all well and good but only if it brings home the profits. Keep your eyes on the prize – and profits are the prize.

So who’s winning the medals in the olympic sport of mobile hardware manufacturing?
Source: “Who’s Winning, iOS or Android? All the Numbers, All in One Place

Awards Ceremony: Apple walks away with the Gold (both figuratively and almost literally), Samsung takes the Silver and no one else even medals. The Bronze podium stands empty.


The only proper way to score advertising is net advertising profits retained. Market share and platform may be used to garner advertising revenue but they are only the means and they should never be confused with profit, which is the end.

Today, there are three great truths in mobile advertising:

1) Google is killing it in mobile advertising.
2) Google is killing it in mobile advertising…but mobile advertising is still relatively small; and
3) The vast majority of Google’s mobile advertising revenue is generated on the iOS platform, not the Android platform.

1) Google is killing it in mobile advertising.

Google dominates the mobile search market with 93% of US mobile search advertising dollars, according to eMarketer. Facebook is at No. 2.

2) Mobile advertising is still relatively small.

The mobile ad market alone stood at roughly $4.1 billion at the end of last year, up from $1.5 billion at the end of 2011. Google, currently has more than half the mobile ads market with annual revenues of around $2.2 billion.

Just to keep things in perspective, mobile ad revenue only accounted for 9% of all online ad revenue last year, although the percentage of mobile ads vis-a-vis other online ads is rapidly growing. And mobile ad revenues paled in comparison with mobile hardware sales. While it took an entire year for ALL mobile ad revenue to reach $4.1 billion, Apple alone, and in 90 days, and in what many considered a down quarter, brought in revenues of approximately $31.4 billion just from iPhone and iPad sales.

3) Google is making its advertising money on iOS, not Android

“(I)t’s Android’s large market share that is the winner for Google. The more Android devices being used, the more Google services with Google ads are being used.” – Virtual Pants

Actually, not so very much. Most of Google’s advertising dollars are generated by iOS’s relatively smaller market share, not by Android’s massive market share.


Source: MoPub

Take a good hard look at the chart, above. The iPhone ad spend doubles the ad spend share of ALL of Android. The iPad almost matches ALL of Android BY ITSELF. And even the lowly iPod has one-quarter of the ad spend that ALL of Android does. Market share is all that matters? I don’t think so. That’s like arguing that acreage is all that matters in real estate. The size of the lot does matter in real estate but location, location, location matters more, more, more. And market share does matter in mobile advertising but it is the location of the market share that matters even more.

Apple’s iOS Mobile Ad Metrics Dominates Android

Why 75 cents of every dollar spent on mobile advertising is spent on iPhone and iPad

iOS leads Android in mobile ad revenue

Apple’s iPad dominates online shopping traffic & revenue generation

iOS Still Top Platform For Monetising Mobile Ads, Opera’s Q1 Study Finds, iPhone Also Beating Android For Generating Ad Traffic

iPad Still Dominates Tablet Ads With iPad Mini Gaining, Velti Finds

“My belief, though, is that what Google is winning with Android is a booby prize — overwhelming majority share of the unprofitable segment of the market.” – John Gruber

When it comes to ad revenues and profits, we shouldn’t be counting Android as a single entity anyway. Ad revenues don’t help Android, the platform. They help specific digital stores. Ads going to Amazon, Google, and the various stores in China and elsewhere need to be broken out separately, not lumped together.

Awards Ceremony: Google wins the Gold and they win it going away. But they receive their Gold medal standing on the Apple iOS platform, not the Android platform.

Silver and Bronze? I’ll let you decide if it’s Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft’s Bing or someone else. They’re all so far back that it doesn’t much matter now anyway. That may change over time but we’ll have to wait and see how this market develops.

“Razors-And-Blades” Content Sales

“(T)he razor and blades business model, is a business model wherein one item is sold at a low price (or given away for free) in order to increase sales of a complementary good, such as supplies…” ~ Wikipedia

The “razors-and-blades” business model is tricky to score.

— Hardware revenues and profits mean NOTHING in the “razors-and-blades” model. In fact, it’s not unusual to LOSE money from hardware (razor) sales.

— Market share means both nothing and everything in the “razors-and-blades” model. It means nothing because it doesn’t actually generate any profits but it means everything because it is a prerequisite to generating profits. In fact, the only reason you’re giving away your hardware in the first place is to acquire massive market share which, in turn, will hopefully lead to massive profits.

— Ultimately, the only way to measure the success of the “razors-and-blades” model is on the net profits generated by the sale of the complementary goods (razors). In mobile, the complementary goods are content such as music, video, books, etc. and apps. Amazon also has the added advantage of being able to sell everything from their sprawling retail catalog.

As I tried to explain in my tersely titled article: “Selling The Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 Is As Silly As Selling Razor Blades To Men Who Love Beards“, the “razors-and-blades” model makes no sense in this market space. At least it makes no sense to me. In the “razors-and-blades” model, the complementary sales – whether it be blades for razors, or ink for inkjet printers or games for gaming consoles – must be proprietary and must command a premium price. That’s the whole point. Give away the razor, make it back – and more – by selling the blades at a premium.

If you’re selling content, you want to be platform agnostic so that you can sell as much content as possible. This, in my opinion, should be Amazon’s strategy.

If you’re giving away hardware in order to sell content, then you want that content to be tied to your hardware product so that you can monopolize the sale of the complementary product and command a premium price.

In the mobile space, the complementary sales ARE NOT proprietary, they ARE subject to competition and they DO NOT command a premium price. Amazon and Google don’t sell content that is any different or superior to that being sold by Apple and other content providers and their content isn’t being sold at a premium. In fact, Amazon often sells their merchandise at a DISCOUNT which – in the “razors-and-blades” business model – is completely bat-manure crazy. ((Then again, we all know that Jeff Bezos is crazy like a fox.))

So who’s winning in the “razors-and-blades” business model? Why, surprisingly, it’s Apple and it’s Apple in a runaway.

Google Play now at 90% of iOS app store downloads; iOS still holds a 2.6X revenue lead

Despite growing competition from other tablets, Apple’s iPad still accounts for a whopping 89.28 percent of e-commerce website traffic, and also rakes in more money on a per-user basis than any other platform. ~ Monetate

Distimo reports that iOS App Store revenues were 430% larger than Android during 2012. ~ Apple F2Q13 Earnings Call

“…iTunes inclusive of Apple’s own Software generates as much as 15% operating margin on gross revenues. That’s over $2 billion a year.” ~ Asymco, So long, break-even


Source: Canalys

Apple sells their content, not in order to make money but, in order to make their hardware more attractive so that they can sell ever more hardware and make ever more profits. With regard to tablets, Apple is playing the OPPOSITE game that the Amazon Fire and the Google Nexus are playing. While Amazon and Google subsidize their tablets (razors) in order to make money on the sale of their content (blades), Apple should be subsidizing the sale of their content (blades) in order to make money on the sale of their hardware (razors). But that’s not how Apple rolls. Instead, Apple sells their hardware at a premium AND they sell their content at a premium. That’s not supposed to happen but that’s just how good the Apple ecosystem is.

It’s like a walk-on winning the Olympic marathon while everyone else is stuck in the starting blocks.

You can say that it’s elitist or arrogant to argue that iOS users are better customers than Android users. But you can also say that it’s the truth. ~ John Gruber, Church of market share

One last thing. If Amazon and Google have an incentive to sell discounted hardware and premium content and Apple has an incentive to sell premium hardware and discounted content, one of those business models is going to fail and it’s going to fail hard. Since Apple is, so far, successfully selling premium hardware AND premium content, I’ll let you be the judge of how this is going to play out.

Awards Ceremony: I’m tempted to award all three medals to Apple just for having the sheer audacity to win a game that they didn’t even enter. But I guess Apple will have to console themselves with just winning the Gold.

And the Amazon Fire and the Google Nexus tablets? Disqualified for not understanding the rules of the game that they were playing.

Remember, Amazon and Google sell their hardware at cost. They don’t make a penny off those sales and they might even be taking a loss.

Market share? Yes, they have taken some minor market share…in a market where they are GIVING AWAY THEIR MERCHANDISE. And market share is not how you score in the “razors-and-blades” game. While the press and the pundits fawn over the market share of the Amazon Fire and the Google Nexus, what they’re entirely missing is that in the “razors-and-blades” business model, market share should be a GIVEN. I mean, honestly, if you can’t obtain overwhelming market share when you’re giving away your product at cost, then you should be ashamed, embarrassed, abashed, chagrined, humiliated and mortified ’cause you’re doing something terribly, terribly wrong.

You win the “razors-and-blades” game by scoring the most content profits. All those Amazon Fire and Google Nexus market share numbers that the analysts are always going gaga over? Meaningless. They should be removed from the count. They’re probably not hurting the sales of the other available tablets and they’re not helping the bottom lines of their makers either. There is zero proof that Amazon and Google’s hardware giveaways have led to increased retail sales which, after all, in the “razors-and-blades” model, IS the point.

And if you’re going to prophesy that market share alone gives Google data that will someday, somehow, be worth something to someone, then you need to go back and re-read how the “razor-and-blades” business model is scored.

What we desperately need in analyzing mobile computing is far more attention paid to profits and far less attention paid to prophets.

Next Time

Next time I will finish with the “mother” of all business models – platforms – and do the medal count.

Google’s Android Activations Are A Lot Less Cash Cow And A Lot More Bull. And That’s OK.

Read Part One of John’s column entitled: Android’s Market Share Is Literally A Joke

Read Part Three of John’s column entitled: Google’s Android Activations Are A Lot Less Cash Cow And A Lot More Bull. And That’s OK.

The author would like to gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Ben Bajarin and Steve Wildstrom. All the great ideas, that you agree with, were theirs. All the bad ideas, that you disagree with, were mine.

Tablet Trifurcation

images-46Yesterday, Tech.pinions columnist, Patrick Moorhead, discussed the implications of the growing popularity of the 7 inch tablet form factor.


I think that Patrick’s analysis of the schism between Apple’s iOS tablets and Android tablets was spot on. While Apple encouraged their developers to create apps that were optimized for the larger 10 inch tablet form factor, Android eschewed optimization and encouraged a one-size-fits-all approach. The resulting “stretched” Android phone apps worked poorly on the larger tablet form factor. However, “stretched” phone apps seem to work well, or at least adequately, on the slightly smaller 7 inch screens.

This divide in approach between iOS and Android tablets has at least two major implications. First, Apple’s iOS tablets will most likely continue to dominate the 10 inch tablet form factor. In fact, Android has all but ceded the 10 inch form factor to Apple.

Second, because both Apple’s 10 inch iPad and their 7.9 inch iPad Mini run optimized tablet apps, the iPad will most likely become the “go to” tablet for high end users. This means that professionals, businesses, government entities and educators will gravitate towards the iPad. And as the virtuous cycle of developer/app/consumer continues the spiral upwards, the high-end iOS applications will make iOS optimized tablets even more appealing to high-end consumers and even less approachable to Apple’s competitors.


It seems to me that the tablet market is trifurcating. Apple’s iOS is taking the larger 10 inch form factor and the up-scale markets. Google’s Android may command market share in the mid-level markets. And forked or non-Google Android tablets will take the low end of the market. All can survive, but only Apple has proven that it can profitably thrive in such a setting.

Selling The Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 Is As Silly As Selling Razor Blades To Men Who Love Beards

Gillette, Amazon, Google and Apple

— The Gillette business model is to give away the razor in anticipation of making profits from the sale of the blades.

— The Amazon business model is to give away the Kindle Fire for cost in anticipation of making profits from the sale of content and ads.

— The Google business model is to give away the Nexus 7 for cost in anticipation of making profits from the sale of ads and content.

— The Apple business model is to sell the iPad Mini for a profit…AND in anticipation of making additional profits from the sale of content and ads.

The razor blades business model

“(T)he razor and blades business model, is a business model wherein one item is sold at a low price (or given away for free) in order to increase sales of a complementary good, such as supplies (inkjet printers and ink cartridges, “Swiffers” and cleaning fluid, mobile phones and service contracts) or software (game consoles and games).

Though the concept and its proverbial example “Give ’em the razor; sell ’em the blades” are widely credited to King Camp Gillette, the inventor of the disposable safety razor and founder of Gillette Safety Razor Company, in fact Gillette did not originate this model.

The (razor and blades) marketing model may be threatened if the price of the high margin consumables in question falls due to competition. For the (razor and blades) market to be successful the company must have an effective monopoly on the corresponding goods.”

~ via Wikipedia

Three Flaws

There are (at least) three flaws in the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7 business models:

1) No proof of sales;
2) No proof of profits;
3) No monopoly (proprietary) pricing available.

1) No proof of sales

The razor and blades business model works, in part, because when the razors are given away at cost or for free, they become ubiquitous, thus making it convenient for razor owning customers to purchase the company’s proprietary blades. There is no evidence to indicate that either the Amazon Kindle Fire or the Google Nexus 7 are selling well despite their subsidized sales prices.

It’s been estimated that the original Amazon Kindle Fire sold 4.7 million Kindle Fires over a 9 month span and that the Google Nexus 7 sold 3 million units last quarter. These numbers are estimates because neither Amazon nor Google are willing to release the actual sales numbers.

When you consider the fact that these are both subsidized products being sold at cost, those numbers are remarkably low.

2) No proof of profits

The razor and blades business model works, in part, because when the razors are given away at cost or for free, the profit is made from the blades. There is no evidence to indicate that either the Amazon Kindle Fire or the Google Nexus 7 are making substantial profits from the sale of content or ads. In fact, when you look at the company’s recent quarterly earnings reports, there is evidence suggesting that they are NOT making significant revenues or profits from tablet related content and ad sales.

3) No monopoly (proprietary) pricing available

The razor and blades business model works, in part, because the blades are proprietary and command the premium price neccessary to offset the lack of profit from the giveaway of the razors.

For the (razor and blades) market to be successful the company must have an effective monopoly on the corresponding goods.” ~ via Wikipedia

The Printer Example

Computer printer manufacturers have gone through extensive efforts to make sure that their printers are incompatible with lower cost after-market ink cartridges and refilled cartridges. This is because the printers are often sold at or below cost to generate sales of proprietary cartridges which will generate profits for the company over the life of the equipment.

The Game Console Example

(V)ideo game consoles have often been sold at a loss while software and accessory sales are highly profitable to the console manufacturer. For this reason, console manufacturers aggressively protect their profit margin against piracy by pursuing legal action against carriers of modchips and jailbreaks.

Atari had a…problem in the 1980s with Atari 2600 games. Atari was initially the only developer and publisher of games for the 2600; it sold the 2600 itself at cost and relied on the games for profit. When several programmers left to found Activision and began publishing cheaper games of comparable quality, Atari was left without a source of profit.

~ via Wikipedia

Neither the Amazon Kindle Fire nor the Google Nexus 7 have a monopoly on the content or the ads that they sell. They cannot command a premium price. In fact, if anyone can command a premium price on the sale of content, it is Apple because of their extensive distribution channels. While Apple is able to sell content in over 90 countries, the content sales channels for both Amazon and Google are extremely limited.

Cheaper is not necessarily better

There are rumors that Google may announce a $99 Nexus tablet next week. But in a subsidized model, cheaper is not necessarily better. In fact, it could be counter-productive.

The razor and blades business model works, in part, because when the blades are given away at cost or for free, they become ubiquitous, but there is no point in giving away the razors to men who love having beards. Similarly, there is no point in selling low-cost Amazon or Google tablets to customers who don’t buy their content or consume their advertising. Subsidized products attract bargain hunting customers and bargain hunters are as useless to Amazon and Google as bearded men are to Gillette.

The non-existent “Price Umbrella”

Apple is being criticized for selling the iPad Mini at $329 and leaving a “price umbrella” under which the likes of Amazon and Google tablets can grow and prosper.

There is no price umbrella. The Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7 are zero-margin products.

Let me say that again. Amazon and Google make zero profit from tablet sales.

No matter how much Apple lowers its sales price (and its margins) it won’t be taking any profits away from the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7 because they already make no profits.

Now there is an argument to be made that lower Apple iPad Mini prices might reduce Amazon’s and Google’s tablet sales and therefore lower Amazon’s and Google’s tablet related content and ad sales. This presumes that lower iPad Mini prices would spur higher iPad Mini sales. If the iPad is supply constrained, (i.e,, Apple can’t make enough of them) this argument fails.

Further, both the Amazon and Google tablets are already selling poorly. And there is absolutely no evidence that Amazon or Google are making more than, or even as much as, Apple is in content and ad sales. Lower iPad Mini prices would have a negligible effect on Amazon’s and Google’s ethereal profits but it would have a significantly negative affect on the iPad Mini’s margins.

Giving razors to men with beards

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Apple doesn’t need to lower its pricing to deliver “the tablet death blow” to its competitors. Apple’s competitors are doing a fine job of starving themselves of profits as it is.

When your competition is giving razors to men with beards and hoping to make their profits on the sale of blades, you don’t attack them – you ignore them.

7 Inch Tablets Employ An Odd Definition of “Success”

TROY WOLVERTON at the San Jose Mercury News, talks 7 inch tablets:

Just two years ago, Apple’s late co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs mocked small-screened tablets as “tweeners” that were too little to compete with the larger iPad but too big to compete with smartphones.

But after the success that Amazon and Google have had with small-screen tablets…

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop right there.

Success? What success?

Success is defined as: “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”

— Research in Motion, Samsung and other manufacturers introduced tablets with seven inch screens that flopped.

— It’s been estimated that Amazon sold 4.7 million seven inch tablets over a 9 month span.

— It’s been estimated that Google sold 3 million Nexus 7, seven inch tablets over the last quarter.

That’s not a “success”. That’s anything but a “success”.

Notice that the numbers for Amazon and Google are estimates. Their respective companies have not released sales figures. There’s a reason for that.

Also note that the Amazon and Google products are subsidized, which means that they are being sold at cost. What product wouldn’t sell well if it was sold at cost? Apparently, 7 inch tablets.

By way of comparison, Apple sells more that 5 million 9.7 inch tablets every month – at full price – and Apple is conservatively expected to sell 25 million iPads this upcoming holiday quarter. Again, at full price.

I have no doubt that the 7 inch tablet category is viable and I’m guessing that – starting on October 23rd – Apple is going to prove that in a big way. However, we need to stop talking about “the success that Amazon and Google have had with small-screen tablets” or we need to get a new definition for the word “success”. I’m leaning towards the former.

Truel: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; The iPad, the Surface and the Nexus 7

The Plot

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the title roles. ~ paraphrased from Wikipedia

Apple, Microsoft and Google are engaged in an epic tablet war starring the iPad, the Surface and the Nexus 7 in the title roles.

In the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in hidden Confederate gold.

In the tablet wars, the plot revolves around three tablet gunslingers competing to find a fortune in hidden tablet profits.

Clint Eastwood as “Blondie”: The Good. A subdued, cocksure, bounty hunter who both works with and works against Angel Eyes, and Tuco in shifting alliances to find the hidden gold.

Apple as “iPad”: The Goliath. An implacable, cocksure, bounty hunter who both works with and works against Microsoft and Google in shifting alliances to find the hidden profits.

Lee Van Cleef as “Angel Eyes”: The Bad. A ruthless, unfeeling and sociopathic mercenary who always finishes the job.

Microsoft as “Surface”: The Bad (ass). A ruthlessly efficient, relentlessly effective, money making machine who knows how to close.

Eli Wallach as “Tuco”: The Ugly. A comical, oafish fast talking bandit who proves to be a crafty and surprisingly dangerous opponent.

Google as “Nexus 7”: The Geeky. A nerdy, engineering and advertising company whose “don’t be evil” exterior masks a surprisingly powerful and unexpectedly ominous corporate bandit.

The Truel

In the movie’s climatic final scene, Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco face off against one another in a Truel.

In the climatic autumn of 2012, Apple, Microsoft and Google face off against one another in a truel.

A truel is: “a neologism for a duel among three opponents, in which players can fire at one another in an attempt to eliminate them while surviving themselves. ~ via Wikipedia

Each party jockeys for position, each itching to fire first, each wary of what the other two fighters will choose to do.

In tech, Apple, Microsoft and Google are involved in a great tablet truel. Each party jockeys for position, each itching to eliminate the other, each wary of what the other two competitors will choose to do.

The three stare each other down in the circular center of the cemetery, calculating alliances and dangers in a Mexican standoff.

The Apple iPad stands alone at the center of the tablet world. Then the Google Nexus 7 joins in the fray. And finally, on October 26, 2012, the Microsoft Surface steps into the ring. The three stare each other down, calculating alliances and dangers in a Mexican standoff.

The parties position themselves, the tension grows, the Ennio Morricone film score swells until suddenly, they draw and…

The Treasure

Remember the pundits who laughed off the tablet form factor and called them toys? No? Neither does anyone else. They were as wrong as wrong could be.

Tablets are the second coming of the personal computer. Apple knows it. Microsoft knew it long ago but they were unable to successfully seize the moment and capture the treasure for themselves. Google is only just now realizing the importance of tablets. The company or companies that win the tablet wars win the future of computing. The fight is only just begun but like a gunfight, the battle may soon – and very suddenly – be over.

The Gunfighters

Apple iPad

Apple is like Blondie. Confident. Cock-sure. Perhaps a bit too cock-sure. Apple insists on doing things their own way. Google is counting on Apple’s insistance on having a closed shop to be their undoing. Microsoft is counting on Apple’s unwavering insistance on seperating their touch and desktop devices to be their undoing.

However, Apple has an advantage. Like Blondie, they know where the gold (profits) is hidden. The key to unlocking the tablet treasure is tablet optimized Apps. And using our gunfight analogy, when it comes to tablet apps, if Google and Microsoft have six shooters, Apple has an Uzi. Or a bazooka. Or a tank…

Microsoft Surface

If Apple is the cocky newcomer – the up and coming gunslinger – Microsoft, like Angel Eyes, is the consummate professional – the grizzled vertern who has the experience, knows all the tricks in the book and is extremely confident in their ability to win in a shootout.

If Apple is cocky because they think they’re good, Microsoft is confident because they know they’re good. Microsoft has not only been through the wars, they’ve won the wars and they’ve won them convincingly.

However, Microsoft’s secret weapon in the PC wars was compatibility and familiarity. In gunfighter terms, it would be like shooting with the sun at your back. And getting in five shots before your opponent even drew their weapon. And shooting from behind a wall. It was that devastating an advantage.

When it comes to a gunfight – or a platform war – Microsoft is the best there ever was. But this isn’t yesterday and this is a whole new fight. In mobile, Microsoft’s monopoly advantage is no where to be found. If Microsoft is going to win this gunfight, they’re going to have to do it on merit.

And Microsoft is very, very late to the fight…

…and it’s never good for a gunfighter to be late.

Why is Microsoft’s Surface obsessed with Keyboards?

The Apple iPad Tablet vs. the Microsoft Surface Anti-Tablet

Battle Of The Tablet Business Models: Windows 8 And The Microsoft Surface

Google Nexus 7

Google, like Tuco, is in good position. Microsoft and Apple know that each is the greatest danger to the other. They will almost certainly fire all their weapons at one another leaving Google (Tuco) free to gain from the exchange.

Only Google, like Tuco, has a problem.

It was just last week that Google initiated a program to encourage the creation of tablet optimized apps for Android.

Last week.

Tuco doesn’t know it, but he doesn’t have any bullets. Google didn’t know it was important, so they don’t have many tablet optimized apps. And in a truel, being unarmed is a big, big problem to have.

Google Android Tablet Optimized Apps — Two Years Too Late

Battle Of The Tablet Business Models: Google Nexus 7

The Denouement

The gunfighters move into place. The eyes narrow, the hands twitch, the music swells, the tension mounts, the guns are drawn and then…

…a single shot is fired…

…Blondie shoots Angel Eyes. Tuco also tries to shoot, but discovers that his gun is unloaded.

The mobile wars are a fascinating watch. Apple dominates tablets. Microsoft dominates desktops. Google dominates smartphones. Each knows that the future – the elusive treasure – is in mobile. They can’t all win this truel. One, perhaps two, will be left for dead. Which will it be? Which will it be?

“You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” ~ Blondie (Clint Eastwood)

Unlike The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, no one has seen how this movie ends. Microsoft hopes that this will be a sequel: How Microsoft Won The PC Wars, Part II. Google thinks that this is an entirely new genre of film, the kind where open always outguns closed. Apple thinks that there are two kinds of personal computing companies: Those with platforms loaded with apps.. and those who don’t much matter.

Me? I think it’s advantage Apple. You don’t grow from nothing in tablets to a world shaker in two and a half years unless you got it right. The essence of tablets is touch. Not keyboards. Touch.

Microsoft is desperately hoping that Apple got it wrong. Microsoft NEEDS tablets to simultaneously run both touch and desktop operating systems and Microsoft needs both to run well together.

Google? When it comes to tablets, they’re still digging.

It’s clear to me that Apple’s iPad is going to remain on top. The rumored iPad mini only makes this more likely.

Normally, I’d say that – as in phones – Microsoft would have little chance of having their tablets jump past Google and into second place. But circumstances are far from normal. Despite Google’s overwhelming success in phones, they’ve done next to nothing in tablets. And I have little respect for their newly minted subsidized tablet business model and their ever shifting business strategies. And Microsoft has powerful advantages in their ability to leverage a large desktop customer base and utilize their extensive business connections. Microsoft could quite quickly vault Google in tablets and land in second place…

…and wouldn’t that be interesting. In phones it would be Google-Apple-Microsoft. In desktops it would be Microsoft-Apple-Google. In tablets it would be Apple-Microsoft-Google.

That can’t possibly last. This is about to get very real, very fast.

The world of personal computing is in flux. It’s a “truel” world and for some tablet maker – and possibly for several tablet makers – it’s about to go bad and get ugly.

Google Android Tablet Optimized Apps — Two Years Too Late

On Monday, (Google) published a “tablet app quality checklist” on its Android Developer website that urges developers to build tablet-optimized apps… ~ Wired

I’d like to applaud Google for this move, I really would. But let’s put this in context:

— Google should have done this when Samsung introduced the Samsung Tab some two years ago or, at the very latest, when they introduced the tablet-friendly Honeycomb Android operating system in February 2011.

— Google should have done this long BEFORE Microsoft introduced Windows 8 tablets. Microsoft gave Android tablets a two year head start…and Google frittered it away.

— Google should have done this BEFORE they changed strategies, introduced the Nexus 7, and made it nearly impossible for any other Android manufacturer to compete in the Android tablet space.

For the past two years, Google has, at the very least neglected, at the very most sabotaged, their Android tablet efforts. Now they’re asking developers to dedicate their time and their resources to creating tablet specific apps. It’s a great message delivered far too late.

Battle Of The Tablet Business Models: Lessons Learned And A Look Ahead


We’ve been looking at the tablet business models of Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung and Microsoft. Today we wrap up the series by seeing what lessons we have learned and by asking ourselves what the various business models can tell us about the future of tablet computing.

Lessons Learned

Lesson #1: Subsidized tablet business models are a niche

The subsidized business models of the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7 are very limiting. They can only be sold where their content is sold, they can only be sold to consumers who readily pay for content or consume relevant advertising and they will have little appeal to business, government or education. Even if they are fantastically successful within their confined market space, their markets will have little overlap with the tablets that focus primarily on the importance of apps.

Lesson #2: Subsidized tablet business models need to be measured differently and judged appropriately

We tend to judge all things tech by the number of units sold or by overall market share. We should, of course, be focusing on profit instead. Profit is the goal and profit is the standard by which tablet business models should be measured.

The subsidized tablets of the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7 need to be judged, not by sales, not by market share, but by the profits generated by the sale of content and advertising. In a subsidized business model, nothing else matters.

Lesson #3: Conflicting business models are a sign of weakness

With the Nexus 7 and the Surface tablet, both Google and Microsoft have reversed their licensing models and embraced an integrated approach. There is nothing wrong with adjusting one’s business model to fit the times. There’s a lot wrong with having two conflicting business models.

Lesson #4: Platform Matters

Apple has the strongest tablet platform, by far, and it shows in their sales and in their profits.

Amazon seems to understand platform. However, subsidized business models seem geared more toward content than apps. The Kindle Fire is only a year old. We will have to wait and see how the Amazon platform develops.

Google doesn’t seem to get platform, even now. Their weak platform has not hurt them in phone sales (yet) but it’s crippled their tablet efforts. And with the introduction of the Google Nexus 7, Google has made it clear that they think that content, not apps, is what matters most.

Samsung almost certainly understands platform, but they have no control over the Android operating system nor do they control the way Android content and apps are sold. Their only choice is to suffer or get out.

Microsoft gets platform all too well but they are so very late to the game. The Windows Phone 7 platform went nowhere and Microsoft has to be terribly concerned that the Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets may share the same fate.

Lesson #5: Skate to where the puck is going to be

When the market is underserved, products move toward integration. When the market is over served, products move towards modularization. It seems to me that part of the problem with most of the current tablet business models is that their respective companies have misidentified where the market is over served and where it is underserved.

Apple: In my opinion, Apple is on the right path. Tablet hardware, software, and content distribution are becoming “good enough” and are in danger of being commoditized. Apps and ecosystem are still under serving the market and have a lot of room for growth. Apple is adding value and differentiating itself from its competitors by integrating hardware, software, content and apps into a single, cohesive ecosystem.

Apple’s problem is that they have traditionally not been very good at internet services. Look at MobileMe, Ping, Siri, Maps, etc. And internet services are the key to the future of mobile computing ecosystems.

Jonathan Ive is a genius who can design Apple’s hardware but he can’t design a database system that will work with iCloud. Tim Cook’s supply chain prowess turned Apple from a very good company into a great company. What Apple may need to thrive in the future is a Tim Cook for internet services.

Amazon and Google: I think that both the Amazon and Google subsidized strategies are fundamentally flawed. They are creating an integrated hardware and software product designed to add value via the sale of content. But content distribution has already been commoditized. It makes no sense to subsidize hardware sales in order to enhance content sales if the margins on content are de minimis.

Samsung: The problem with the current Samsung tablet model is two-fold. First, their hardware is only one part of the value chain. They do not control the software, content, apps or overall ecosystem. Second, the area where they add value – hardware – is rapidly moving towards “good enough” and commoditization.

Microsoft: In my opinion, Microsoft’s business model is focused on the wrong part of the value chain or stack. Windows RT and Windows 8 is all about creating a superior operating system. But the operating systems currently available from Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are already more than good enough for most consumers. Microsoft is pouring all of its efforts into an area where consumers are already satisfied or over served. Windows 8 may or may not be a better mobile operating system than either Android or iOS but it is not so much better that it will compel the bulk of consumers to switch to it.

The Future

We obsess over tiny diferences between the hardware and operating systems of the various competitors but it is business models that dictate success or failure. Until those business models change, Apple has, and will retain, the lead in tablets. Both Amazon and Google have chosen to ghettoize their tablets. Their inability to generate substantial profits will be obscured by irrelevant sales numbers. Samsung tablets are nowhere and they have nowhere to go.

Microsoft is trickier. It first has to overcome the hurdle of creating a virtuous platform cycle. If developers can’t attract customers – if customers can’t attract developers – then nothing else matters because the platform will go nowhere. However, if Microsoft can overcome this initial, all-important hurdle, then they have a chance to be relevant. We should be able to gauge just how relevant they’ll be by this time next year.


The future of tablets will be determined by their respective business models. Yet most of the current business models are not even directed towards that future.

Battle Of The Tablet Business Models: Google Nexus 7


We’re looking at the tablet business models of Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung and Microsoft. Today we focus on the Google Nexus 7.

3.0 Google Nexus 7


When introducing the new Amazon tablets, Jeff Bezos said:

“We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices.”

Interestingly, the Google Nexus 7 has the very same business model as do the new Amazon tablets. Google gives away the Nexus 7 hardware at cost and then seeks to make its money by selling content and advertising.


The Google Nexus 7 has excellent hardware and it sports one the world’s premiere mobile operating systems in Android’s Jelly Bean. But where Google really brings value to their tablet customers is in the Nexus 7’s low tablet price.

Google is able to keep their tablet prices low because they don’t intend to make any (or much) money on the initial sale of their devices. They can give their customers more tablet for less because they are making it up in content and advertisement sales. Google wants to lure you into their store with their tablet and then have you buy content there.

Do the above two paragraphs sound familiar? If you read yesterday’s article on the Amazon Kindle Fire, they should because they are almost word for word the same. (Battle Of The Tablet Business Models: Amazon Kindle Fire, section 2.2.)

The Google Nexus 7 and the new Amazon tablet share the very same business model so they will naturally compete head-to-head with one another. Which one is likely to prevail over the other? Understanding their similarities and their differences should give us the answer to that question.


The Google Nexus 7 has received many fine reviews for both its hardware and its software but I think the reviewers are missing the larger picture. When I look at the Nexus 7 business model, there is little there to like. The Nexus 7 business model has all the downsides of the Amazon tablet business model and few of the upsides. Despite the almost universal praise the Nexus 7 has received from analysts and pundits, I predict that the Nexus 7 will fail to have any long lasting impact on the tablet markets other than to eliminate other Android manufacturers from contention.

The Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire business models share many of the same issues:

— It’s hard to make a significant profit solely from the sale of low margin content and mobile advertising.

— Devices can only be sold in countries where content can be made available via the Google Play store. Sales of devices outside of those countries are counter-productive.

— Tablet sales must be carefully targeted at only those customers who voraciously consume (and are willing to pay for) content or who positively respond to advertising. Tablets sold to non-consumers are a waste of time, money and effort.

— Subsidized tablets draw exactly the wrong type of customer. Bargain hunters are less likely than others to consume content and respond well to advertising.

— A subsidy business model thrives on low cost hardware and long refresh cycles. However, we live in a world where Apple, Samsung and Microsoft are rapidly iterating their tablet hardware offerings and pushing the barriers of what it is technologically possible for a tablet to do. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to pursue the contradictory goals of spending as little as possible on the tablet hardware while still remaining competitive with the tablet offerings of competitors.

— A content focused, ad driven tablet will have little or no appeal to government, business or educational entities.

— Online only distribution will be difficult and other methods of distribution are sparse and immature.

(For a further discussion of the difficulties inherent in pursuing a subsidized tablet business model, please refer to section 2.3 of my earlier article: Battle Of The Tablet Business Models: Amazon Kindle Fire.)

In addition to the issues it shares with the Amazon tablets, the Nexus 7 has problems all its own:

— The business model relies upon making a profit from content sales and content sales are not Google’s core strength. When it comes to online stores, Google Play is a distant third to Amazon and Apple.

— Open business models are good for many things, but the maintenance of a store is not one of them. While closed companies like Amazon and Apple run their stores with an iron fist, Google runs its store with abandon.

— Google is not known for its customer service. Its current customers are advertisers, carriers and manufacturers, not end users. The one time Google did sell directly to consumers with the Nexus, their efforts failed. Customer support is hard, Google has little experience in it and it would be a radical shift in their business model. There’s plenty of doubt about whether they can pull it off and until they prove otherwise, they don’t get the benefit of that doubt.

  • Google Nexus 7 v. Amazon Kindle Fire:
  • A head-to-head battle between the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire will not end well for the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 probably has better hardware and software (although I know that Amazon would dispute that) and it also has a very strong and loyal user base. But the subsidy game is all about content and in content, Amazon shines.

    The Google Nexus 7 business model is like a coach taking a great athlete and playing them out of position – like taking a superior skater and having them play baseball instead of hockey, or taking a great baseball hitter and having them play soccer instead of baseball. Amazon is playing to their strengths. Google is playing to their weakness. In the long run, Google’s putative superiority in hardware and software will come to naught. In the battle of the business models, when Amazon and Google go head-to-head in the sale of content, Amazon will win every single time.

  • Content v. Apps:
  • I think Google pursued the wrong strategy. They have focused on the sale of content when, in my opinion, they should have focused on apps and the creation of a stronger app platform. I wrote about their abandonment of tablet optimized apps in my article entitled: “With Apps, Size Matters.”

    However, it’s too late to turn back now. Google’s failure to focus on tablet apps has all but doomed their already faltering tablet efforts.

  • Reversing The Business Model: Open v. Closed:
  • With the Nexus 7, Google abandoned their open business model and adopted a closed business model instead. Now they have none of the advantages of the open model yet they’ve gained few of the advantages of the closed model. Open allowed Google to focus solely on the operating system and to license that operating system to all comers which, in turn, led to the proliferation a wide variety of low cost, inexpensive hardware options. The Google Nexus 7 has none of those advantages. It is made by one manufacturer so its production numbers are limited. It is a single form factor. All of the things that make an open business model great – cost, choice, variety, distribution, ubiquity, etc. – are lost.

    And what is gained in its stead? Not much.

    — The original Android concept was to get Android everywhere in order to capture eyeballs in order to sell mobile advertising. As discussed above, a subsidized model LIMITS production to only those who are willing to buy content.

    — The closed Nexus 7 business model will gut the tablet efforts of the remaining Android manufacturers. How are they supposed to compete with a for-cost Google tablet when they do not share in the profits that Google garners from the sale of content or advertising?

    The change from an open model to the closed Nexus 7 business model will have dramatic long-term negative consequences for Google’s tablet efforts. For the reasons described above, the Nexus 7 will not sell well enough to garner large scale content and advertising profits but it will sell well enough to eviscerate the efforts of all other Android tablet manufacturers. For Google, it’s the worst of both worlds.


    The Google Nexus 7 does not represent a coherent business strategy. It represents the abandonment of strategy. While others are singing the praises of the Google Nexus 7, I am singing a dirge.

    I predict that we’ll continue to hear a lot about Android tablet activations but we’ll continue to hear little about content and advertising profits, which is all that matters in a subsidized business model.

    I predict that the already moribund tablet efforts of the other Android manufacturers will simply give up the ghost altogether. (Caveat: I am not counting Amazon as an Android manufacturer since their operating system is so radically forked from Google’s version of Android.)

    I predict that – unless Google makes a dramatic change – the Nexus 7 will all but fade from sight.

    Bold predictions, I know. But they’re dictated, not be me but, by Google’s own flawed business model.


    We’ve now looked at the Apple, Amazon and Google tablet business models. Tomorrow, we look at Samsung and the Galaxy Tab.

    The iPad Is Selling like Mad And Making The Competition Sad

    At the iPhone 5 event held on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, Tim Cook announced these facts regarding iPads:

    1) Last quarter, Apple sold 17 million iPads.
    2) Apple sold more iPads than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC lineup.
    3) Apple has sold a total of 84 million iPads since its launch in April 2010, less than two and a half years ago.
    4) Competitors have launched hundreds of tablets to compete with the iPad. One year ago, the iPad had 62% market share. Today the iPad’s lead has grown to 68% market share.

    Five Observations:

    First, all the action, all the growth in computing is in mobile devices. As for the future of computing, in my opinion, smartphones will have the bigger numbers, but tablets will have the bigger impact.

    Second, neither Apple, nor HP, nor Dell, nor Lenovo, nor Acer, nor any one else who makes a living selling computing hardware cares a whit about whether you call the iPad a PC, a computer, a media tablet or a toy. That’s all just meaningless semantics. What they do care about is that Apple is selling more and more $500 (and up) devices while they are selling less and less.

    “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value” ~ Marshal Ferdinand Foch

    Third, Apple is just crushing the competition in this all-important new category. Starting with nearly 100% market share in 2010, it was inevitable that Apple’s overall market share would drop as seemingly every other manufacturer on the planet started selling this new, and rapidly growing form factor. So to see Apple’s market share GROWING after a two and a half year span is simply mind blowing.

    Fourth, Google – and therefore Android – has, in my opinion, completely missed the boat in tablet computing. Andy Rubin and Google stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that there is a fundamental difference between smartphone apps and tablet apps:

    “I don’t think there should be apps specific to a tablet…if someone makes an ICS app it’s going to run on phones and it’s going to run on tablets.” ~ Andy Rubin

    Apple just announced that there are over 250,000 iPad specific apps in their store. Developers don’t create apps for kicks and buyers don’t buy iPad specific apps for no reason. There is a difference between a smartphone app and a tablet app. Apple gets it. Google doesn’t.

    Android tablet manufacturers have paid the price for Google’s misstep as the lack of tablet specific Apps has cut the ground out from under their tablet efforts.

    And with the introduction of the Google Nexus 7, Google has all but ended any hope that any Android manufacturer – other than Google – can make a profit on Android powered tablets.

    Fifth, when you see the above numbers, you can see how very desperately Microsoft wants and needs to be in this sector. Microsoft Windows rules the notebook and desktop markets but they have nothing going on in phones and tablets…yet.


    The future of computing is in tablets. And right now, Apple owns that future.

    How Android Raises the Experience Bar with Nexus 7

    As a technology insider who has actually planned, developed, and launched products, I have always believed it was important to spend inordinate amount of time living with new and emerging technology products.  Only this way, can you get the “feel” of a product; where it is and where the category is headed.  With regards to Android tablets, I have lived with every version of operating system since inception on 10” and 7” tablets. For every Android tablet version, I added every single personal and business account and used it as I would expect general and advanced users to use it.  While I had experienced some very positive things about each Android tablet version, whenever I held it to the iPad, it just didn’t compare.  Either my preferred apps weren’t available, the content I wanted was missing, or it just didn’t “feel” right.  After using the Google Nexus 7 for a few days, I can say the experience is solid and a lot of fun, something I have never before said about an Android tablet.

    Why Non-iPads didn’t Sell Well

    We must first understand Google’s previous missteps with Android tablets to fully appreciate how far they have come with the Nexus 7.  While I penned this post a year ago outlining why Android tablets weren’t selling well, let me net it out for you.  Non-iPads haven’t sold well over the last year because:

    • tablets were sold with incomplete collections or no available movies, music, TV, books, and games
    • tablets were sold with minimal applications optimized for the platform
    • tablets were released with unusable features like LTE, SD cards, and USB ports
    • tablets didn’t “feel’ good as there were stutters and sputters
    • with all the issues above, most 10” tablets were sold at the same price as the iPad

    Think about the horrible stories consumers who paid full price for an HP Touchpad, Motorola Xoom, or BlackBerry PlayBook tell their friends and colleagues today.  Given tablets are a new category and still a “considered” purchase, everything other than the iPad was considered risky, particularly for the non-techie consumer.

    So why will the outcome for the Nexus 7 be any different? Well, it’s all about its integrated and holistic experience.

    Nexus 7 is a Big Phone with Access to 600,000 Phone Apps

    No one doubts that Google’s Android has been successful in smartphones.  They’ve been so good, in fact, that Android even eclipses iOS in market share.  This is why it’s so important to understand the implications of Google choosing the phone metaphor for the Nexus 7 as its it’s all about apps.  Even today, Android tablets apps are counted in the hundreds and iPad tablet apps are in the hundreds of thousands.  Apps and content are to tablets as roads are to a car, and consumers have access to at least 600,000 of these Android apps.  It’s not only about leveraging the phone app ecosystem as the HTC Flyer were phone-based 7” tablets and didn’t exactly set the world on fire in sales.

    Nexus 7 Uses State of the Art Hardware and Software

    I liked my Kindle Fire when I first got it, but in reality, I was most impressed with the price versus the iPad than the experience. Over time, my Kindle just sat in my drawer at home and I used my iPad 2 then the iPad 3.  I stopped using my Kindle because the web and mail experience were just so pathetically slow, and quite frankly I got tired of staring at pixels as I am very near-sighted.  I attribute this to the cheaper hardware, a much older Android 2.3, a slow browser for complex sites, and a lower resolution display.  I must reinforce, though, it was at less than half the price of the iPad 2 when it shipped and millions looked the other way as they were just happy to have a tablet.

    The Nexus 7 uses state of the art hardware and software and at least for 6 months, buyers won’t have too many levels of remorse. The two main drivers of the experience are Android Jelly Bean and the NVIDIA’s Tegra 3. Jelly Bean, the latest Android OS, adds a tremendous amount of new features but, in short, enable:

    • Project Butter which doubles the UI speed to 60fps so Android finally feels responsive
    • fully customizable widgets at any size the user chooses
    • voice search and dictation that actually works, as Google moved much of the logic and dictionary back to the client and off of the cloud
    • fully customizable notifications, to see just what you want to see and very little of what you don’t want to see
    • Google Now, their first intelligent agent

    The NVIDIA Tegra 3 SOC is just as impressive as it has:

    • quad core processor clocked at 1.3Ghz which speeds up tabbed browsing, background tasks, widgets, task switching, multitasking, installing apps, etc.
    • 5th battery saver core which operates in idle mode, which saves battery life
    • GeForce graphics with 12 cores clocked at 416MHz to play the highest-end Android games and HD video

    When you add these features to the 7”, 1280×800 (216 PPI) display, you get a very solid experience that just “feels” good.

    It’s All About the Experience

    As the rest of the phone and tablet industry has painfully learned from Apple, it is about the delivering the holistic and integrated experience between software and hardware, not the ingredients that make it up.  The Nexus does deliver a good, holistic experience, and not just at a certain price point.  While what defines as “good experiences” are very personal, here are many of the experience points I believe will be universally appreciated:

    • light enough to comfortably hold in one hand and small enough to put in a coat, cargo pant pocket or purse
    • the UI “feels” fluid and very fast
    • cannot see any pixels which can distract from the visual experience, particularly when using in bed or with near-sighted users who hold the tablet near their face
    • the tabbed browsing is very fast, focuses well on desktop-sized sites, and bookmarks sync with desktop Chrome
    • the apps and content users want will be available, at least in most countries
    • email is full-featured and very fast, with no lag to delete, create, or linking to web sites
    • notifications are subtle, non-invasive, and speedy to resolve
    • live tiles are fully customizable and save time to see content, even eliminating the need in many cases to open an app like email or calendar
    • with multiple apps running in the background with data feeds updating, it still feels smooth

    The holistic experience is greater than just the sum of its piece parts, a first for Android tablets.

    Nexus 7 Significantly Raises the Android Tablet Experience

    As Ben Bajarin pointed out here, usage models will differ between 7” and 10” tablets. One thing I must add is that like the Fire, the Nexus 7 will pull some potential sales away from the iPad if Apple does nothing.  This is an element that many fail to recognize.  The analogy I will use to show this is between sedans and minivans.  If minivans had never been introduced, sedans would have sold more.  In parallel, without a Nexus 7, Apple would sell more iPads, even if they aren’t the same exact usage models or price points.

    Will Apple roll over and let Google and Android slow down its march toward digital dominance?  Probably not, as I do expect Apple to introduce a 7” tablet for many reasons and also as Apple laid out at WWDC, iOS 6 is very compelling, especially when connected with other Apple devices.  Today, the broad tech ecosystem and investors see Apple as invincible, understandable as they have plowed over many of the largest companies in tech.  If Google and Android start to gain credibility in the tablet space, what message will that send about invincibility?  Apple needs to stop Google in their tracks and remove all of the oxygen during the holidays to maintain its dominant status.

    One thing for certain is that the Nexus 7 and Jelly Bean significantly raise the bar for the Android tablet experience, something that has been absent for 18 months.