Last Updated May 17, 2011 10:18 AM EDT
But looking at the details of what has slowed adoption of tablets running Google's (GOOG) mobile operating system can become a meaningless exercise in misdirection. Far better for vendors to boil things down to a simple proposition: Android tablets have done crap because they are crap. And what they have lacked is all due to the vendors, not a lack of apps.
To get beyond your problems, you need to know where you stand. At the moment, industry executives are still grasping for explanations, not coldly assessing reality. And the reality is that Android tablets have largely been crappy. You can't pin it down to one aspect, as there have a whole bunch of problems:
- Prices were too high, as though vendors thought they could reposition Apple as a discount manufacturer.
- The vendors treat Android tablets as "disposable" products that don't need ongoing support and updates.
- Earlier versions of Android didn't have the features that tablets need, and the Honeycomb version is late to the party.
- Many vendors released hardware with significant shortcomings.
People have assumed that lessons from the early days of PCs still apply. Those early machines needed software -- killer applications -- to make them useful. However, the iPhone sold well before the massive numbers of apps were available. Android handset sales ramped up quickly and the apps caught up. Why? Because smartphones could do useful things, such as make phone calls or handle Internet or text messaging, without third-party apps. Tablets let people surf the Web, listen to music, enjoy video, handle email, and many other things, all without an army of apps.
Looking somewhere over the app rainbow has become a self-destructive pastime for the industry. When you point to a lack of apps as the reason for failure, it becomes an excuse not to get better until the number increases. You bundle up your failings and drop them at someone else's door. No wonder it takes so long to make the fixes that might actually improve sales.
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