Sunday, May 15, 2011

What Android tablets could do better than the Ipad

How can Android beat the iPad 2?  Tough.  The iPad install base is large, and the iPad is simply a great product.  But the iPad 2 is not perfect.  In any case, if Android does not a better product, it will never catch on.  So, from the perspective of an adult user (i.e., not for primary use as a gaming machine), what could an Android tablet do better than the iPad 2, which would lead me to trade mine in?

  1. Better cameras.  The ipad 2 cameras are awful, even for skype.  I don't mean (just) the resolution.  I mean the lens angle.  It is not wide enough.  You have to hold the Ipad about 4 feet away from your face in order not to look like a moon face.  It also means that inevitable shaking makes the system worse.
  2. Better software developers.  For example, tap into better system software through outside ideas.  Allow awesome third-party system software to take control of the iPad--but only if it has been carefully checked and vetted.  (For example, I would buy a tablet that allowed me to set up a "point system" for my kids: if you do educational games for x hours, you get to play any kinds of games for y hours.  No one other than Apple can implement this on the iPad.)  Offer a venue for Android developers.  Oh, and build faith among your developers.  I don't mean be static in terms of always sticking religiously to legacy interfaces.  See, most external Apple developers do not trust Apple, and rightly so.  They understand that Apple may pull the rug out from under them at any moment if Apple finds it in its own interest.  Apple's predatory behavior vis-a-vis its developers is Android's single biggest asset, and Apple's single-biggest weakness.  If Android were just competitive, every developer would prefer putting their stakes with Android, and not with iOS.
  3. Better web browsing.  Safari sucks.  I want real tabs.  Background loading, even if I exit it.  (Flash is not half as important as the basic experience.)  Since I am at it, make sure the other base software for adults is better, too.  Offer a better skype and email client than what exists on the iPad.  (Skype, where is the iPad client?  Why am I running an iPhone skype??)  Lure all the magazine and book publishers to go to Android.  Work with Amazon.
  4. Offer some better technology.  Take some risks to lock up something unique.  Offer a truly foldable tablet, where the fold is seamless.  Or a flexible tablet.   Or a sun viewable tablet. Wireless charging. (Retina display?  Who cares.  The ipad is plenty readable, even today.  The resolution battle and battery life battles, like the CPU battles of old, are mostly over.  1000x1000 on a 10" tablet is decent.  8 hour battery life is decent.  Yes, you can be better, but this is not what will make or break the next system.)   There are plenty of better tech solutions that have failed.  But there are few solutions without a compelling advantage that were able to overtake a market leader.  Apple is a smart leader.  They learned how important market share is fighting Intel and Microsoft.  Apple now has the iOS software base.  They have the user base.  Business as usual just won't work for Android.  Android just has to become better than the iPad, or it will never catch on.
  5. Offer an optional "pen" mode for more accurate drawing with a stylus.  Offer voice recognition software deeply embedded in the system.  

Of course, the whole tablet experience has to be right, too.  Be as good when you can be.  The device should be as thin and nice (and crapware-free) as the iPad.

PS: This is also why google TV failed---it has to be simple and integrated.  A TV that has everything seamlessly integrated, without cables, complex menus, etc.  The DVD, Bluray, DVR, etc., all seamless.  One remote control.  My grandmother would have to be able to operate it.

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