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NVIDIA: Android tablets struggling because of retail, apps

updated 10:40 am EDT, Sun May 15, 2011

NVIDIA CEO explains slow uptake of Android tablets

Android 3.0 tablets aren't selling well because their creators don't understand retail, NVIDIA chief Jen-Hsun Huang said in a talk conducted on Thursday. He believed that early manufacturers, so far including Acer, ASUS, Dell, LG, and Motorola, didn't understand how to sell their tablets at retail. Although not mentioning Apple by name, he implied to CNET that the iPad's lower pricing, clearer marketing, and better buying experience at retail were all impacting the chances of tablets like the Motorola Xoom, which he singled out as an example of what went wrong.

"The baseline configuration [of the Xoom] included 3G when it shouldn't have," he said in reference to Verizon's minimum $800 asking price. "Tablets should have a Wi-Fi configuration and be more affordable. And those are the ones that were selling more rapidly than the 3G and fully configured ones."

Many Android tablet manufacturers, including LG, Motorola, and Samsung, initially assumed they could succeed with tablets by repeating the carrier-first strategy they took with smartphones. The G-Slate, Xoom, and first Galaxy Tab all started off as 3G models priced above Wi-Fi iPads and, in the case of the Xoom, above even the 32GB 3G iPad it was meant to compete against. Tying them to a provider, even without a contract, has both limited their retail reach as well as discouraged buyers who assumed they might have to pay a monthly rate just to use a given tablet at all.

Acer, ASUS, Motorola, and Samsung have mostly addressed the cost and distribution issues by launching Wi-Fi versions. Their lack of dedicated retail footprints may still be an issue as the companies often have to compete side-by-side with each other where Apple often gets special attention even in large general stores like Best Buy.

Huang also acknowledged a commonly cited deficit in native apps, citing a "software richness of content problem." Despite being nearly three months old, Android 3.0 has only a few dozen optimized or native apps, many of which are simply ports of iPad titles. The iPad launched with as many as 1,000 native apps and now has over 65,000, almost all of which are exclusives.

The wide gap has previously been blamed on Google's rush to complete Android 3.0 so Motorola could have its tablet out on the market before the iPad 2. An official SDK came out less than a month before the Xoom itself and gave developers little time to write apps. Android Market's historical trouble with properly exposing new apps might also be an issue and might not improve until a third store redesign coming soon.

by MacNN Staff



  1. aSevie

    Joined: Dec 1969


    But, but, but...

    I thought these were iPad killers...

  1. rumplestiltskin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    "Acer, ASUS, Dell, LG, and Motorola, didn't understand how to sell their tablets at retail."

    First lesson: Make a good product.

    Second lesson: See first lesson.

  1. ruel24

    Joined: Dec 1969


    They're boneheads...

    When was the last time you heard of a product from Motorola, Acer, Dell, or LG that just got you all excited? No innovation, no product enrichment from beginning to end, to mojo and no sense of PR = massive fail. The one and only reason Android phones took off in the first place, was Verizon's excellent "Droid" campaign. The OEM's have just failed completely at the market. They're still trying to ruin the Android phone platform with their different skins they put on the devices and the lengthy times they take to update their platform. They simply don't have a clue...

  1. aardman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The product itself doesn't really matter...

    Yeah, if not for the inept marketing all these Android tablets would be selling like hotcakes. Sure, keep telling yourselves that. It's only a marketing problem, it's only a marketing problem, it's only. . .

  1. BlueGonzo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    finally someone...

    Finally someone understands how the iOS is such a big success. It's not the hardware, it's the eco system with hardware and software. Just try garageband or real racing 2 on the ipad. There are one of the best examples.

    Understanding is only one part. I think there is a long way for android in terms of exciting and powerful apps.

  1. dagamer34

    Joined: Dec 1969



    nVidia is disappointed because it doesn't make the end product (nor should it). It was completely boneheaded for the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet to cost $799 because it had 32GB of flash and 3G. That's not a wise way to sell a lot of a product. That's just Verizon getting it's way demanding it get first dibs (and all the reviews are of the initial more costly version, not the cheaper WiFI version). No one cares about having a "free" upgrade to LTE because a) it's not in all markets and b) you're making users wait 3 months!!

    It makes TOO much sense to have a $499 16GB WiFi Xoom. And I'm certain that's why they didn't do it. Because they want to sabotage their sales. That's the only reason I can see!

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Take A Lesson From Hollywood

    A real blockbuster movie will be unstoppable regardless of its marketing because (to echo rumplestiltskin) they've made a truly great product. Word will definitely get around.

    But if you couple that truly great product with great marketing, merchandising, pricing, etc. you're simply going to leap towards the front of the pack and destroy any competition currently at the box office, not to mention your staying power and potential impact on the all-time top-earning films lists.

    Conversely, a well-marketed film flop will have a decent opening but drop off faster than "Sent from my Android Device" did from facebook_Clarence's (wrenchy's) "signature." It won't matter how many t-shirts they printed or action figures they made.

    But take heart, Android fans: your tablets could one day become cult classics like Rocky Horror or Buckaroo Banzai. But for now and the foreseeable future, they're going to remain cult classics more in a Branch Davidian sense.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_RhY

    Via Facebook

    Joined: May 2011


    Too expensive.

    Why would anybody spend that kinda money on a tablet when they can get a netbook that is for more capable for half the price?

    Until the price comes down and google releases the source, there is absolutely no point to any of this tablet revolution nonsense.

  1. viktorob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So it is all about marketing and not about a good

    So at the end, it doesn't matter if you have a good product or not, the most important thing is marketing?
    So My iphone does not really have 400,000 apps and counting?
    My new iMac does not have a port that is even better than the fastest industrial fiber channel port?
    My ipad does not have 6500 apps and it is so well construct and the OS is so much reliable that it is use even in the cockpit of many planes?
    Damn, apple does a really good marketing to make me believe that!!!! (Sarcasm).
    Mr ENVIDIA guy, I will tell you the obvious; is not the marketing, it that all tablet makers are depending in the perpetual beta google software. They all were trying to fight at apple supporting FLASH that has never sun well on google software. They were just trying to copycat apple, that's the problem, not the marketing.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Key phrase: "their creators don't understand retai

    The wannabes don't understand retail because they have never relied on retail sales for the majority of their profits. Most of their money comes from contracts with corporate IT departments, not from Best Buy.

    The Apple Stores, on the other hand, are hugely successful. 320+ stores worldwide, $3.2 billion sales in Q2 2011 (nearly 13% of Apple's total revenue), over 1 million visitors several days a month, 5 times the revenue per square foot of Best Buy.

    But so what. Why is retail important to pad computer sales? Because using iPad is a sensory experience, not a marketing checklist experience. It's far more intimate than using even a laptop, and it delivers a far a more immersive experience than a smart phone because its screen is much bigger.

    And as we all know, the OS and apps are the major factors in the overall experience. And that's where Apple really excels.

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