Google is now launching a full assault on Apple in all the three key areas of modern mobile connectivity – smartphones, mini tablets, and full-sized tablets.
Until now, Apple has been perceived as dominating in all three areas, even though the underlying market shares tend to contradict that perception.
In reality, there have been Android powered phones out there for years and Android phones have been consistently and substantially outselling iPhones for several years.
There are Android powered mini and full tablets, too, although they have yet to reach the same level of market success as have Android powered phones. But at their present rate of catchup, that may happen very soon. In the last quarter, Apple’s market share of tablet devices dropped to ‘only’ 57% while Android’s increased to 41%.
The impact of the iPad mini is of course as yet unclear, but some commentators believe that the biggest impact of the iPad mini will be to shift people who would have purchased a full size and more expensive iPad to now buy the smaller less expensive one – making it in large part an ‘own goal’ for Apple.
Although in theory the new Apple iPad mini finally gives Apple a device to offer against the plethora of budget priced high quality 7″ tablets now already available, and clearly it will win some of that business, its much higher price (compared to other 7″ tablets) may harm its broad acceptance, and the new price reductions for Google’s 7″ tablet make the pricing gap between Apple and the rest of the market even more pronounced. The iPad mini is only a ‘good value’ when compared against full size iPads, but not when compared against other similarly sized Android tablets.
The lower visibility of Android mobile devices is due to the market being fragmented with a number of different hardware manufacturers and no iconic branding and unified simple easily understood product range such as Apple has enjoyed. While it could be argued that the huge number of Android phones available (50+) has helped Android phones outsell the iPhone, it has also blunted the clear image of exactly what an Android phone is, and what its specific strengths and appeal comprises.
With Google’s product announcements today, it has created a very similar situation to Apple. A single supplier is now offering a consistent family of devices – phones, mini and full-sized tablets, under one brand and with a reasonable consistently in terms of look and feel. A person can now make a choice to either have a completely Apple branded iOS based set of mobile devices, or a completely Google branded Android set of mobile devices. If you already have two devices from the one supplier, you’ll probably seek to stay with that ‘family’ for any additional devices.
Perhaps the most significant part of Google’s new product range is its full-sized tablet. Apple’s near monopoly of larger sized tablet devices is now under direct attack by Google’s phenomenal new Nexus 10 – a device which not only confronts Apple’s historic screen superiority head-on but roundly beats it, and at a $100 lower price point too.
Is 29 October 2012 the turning point in Apple’s fortunes, for a second time? Is Apple’s share price now terminally ending its rocketing ride upwards? Is Apple going to return back to its roots, as a niche producer of overpriced hardware? Here’s an interesting chart of Apple’s share price for the previous three months, showing it under-performing both Google and the major market indices.
We can’t and aren’t predicting the future, but it does seem that Apple’s head start on the market has now been lost, and it is having to compete on a much more level playing field, and with devices that are appreciably more expensive, while not really any better, than its new competitors.
As for the software side of these devices, all the new Google devices use the latest version of their Android OS, also announced today – version 4.2. There is one profound change in this new version OS which will make it a ‘must have’ product for many corporate users, plus also families and couples – the ability of the OS to have multiple users (an ability which the latest iOS from Apple lacks).
Now you can log onto your tablet with your account, and access your apps and email and everything, and then have your spouse or child or colleague log on with their own account and not access any of your personal information and details.
This feature is not really necessary on a cell phone for the simple reason that cell phones are essentially ‘one on one’ personal devices. Each person has their own phone and rarely if ever shares it. But tablets are more likely to be shared among family members, and so having different accounts for each member of the family can be a powerful plus.
Google is spreading its favors around. The Nexus 4 is manufactured by LG, the Nexus 7 by Asus and the Nexus 10 by Samsung. This is a clever way of balancing out its relationships with major companies who also make their own competing Android powered units, and quite a different approach to that adopted by Microsoft, who is not using any of its hardware partners to make its own Surface devices. By doing so Google clearly hopes to maintain favorable relationships with its supporting manufacturers, who get to share in Google’s own hardware sales success; whereas Microsoft risks alienating its hardware partners with its much more ‘selfish’ approach to hardware manufacturing.
In quick summary, the new Google full-sized (10″) tablet seems to be superior to the Apple iPad in every respect, and also to be $100 cheaper. The Google 7″ tablet and the new iPad mini are closely comparable units, with the Google Nexus 7 being again the much better value ($199 compared to $329 for comparable entry-level units).
The phone choice is a little more complicated, with the iPhone having sort of better 4G capabilities, but the Nexus 4 having a much better and bigger screen. There are other excellent Android phones also available such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 (and expected to be updated to the S4 early next year), so our final conclusion is that Google’s two tablets are definitely better than the competing Apple tablets, while the Nexus 4 phone is comparable to the iPhone 5, and there are other Android phones also available too.
So Google beats Apple on two of the three products and probably scores a draw on the third.
The next three articles will compare the Apple and Google alternatives for phones (ie about 4″ screen size), mini tablets (ie about 7″ screen size) and full tablets (ie about 10″ screen size).
Please either follow the links at the very bottom of this page by clicking on the left hand arrow or title (on this page it says ‘Google Nexus 4 Phone vs Apple iPhone 5’) or simply choose from the three direct links here :