NEWS ANALYSIS: A tablet boom appears to be building momentum as Google has completely sold out its 16GB Nexus; Amazon is planning new tablets; Apple still may announce a 7-inch iPad and the Microsoft Surface will soon join the fray.
When you go to Google Play and shop for a 16GB Nexus 7 tablet, Google wont let you buy one. The best you can do is enter your email address so that Google can notify you if and when those tablets become available.
However, you can still order the much less popular 8GB version of the Nexus 7. A Google spokesperson has told the press that the company underestimated the demand for the 16GB version of the Nexus 7. A Google spokesperson declined to comment to eWEEK, except to say that the Nexus 7 will be back in stock "soon." However the spokesperson would not say how many of the 16GB Nexus 7 tablets the company had sold.
Meanwhile, Staples, the office supply store that also sells Amazon tablets, is saying that Amazon is working on more tablets, including an updated version of the Kindle Fire, and apparently a 10-inch tablet, as well.
What exactly this means is unclear, but the best guess from people who are hearing the same rumors I am is that a new version of the 7-inch Kindle fire will be released in time for the holiday shopping season, and that there may be several configurations. Perhaps therell be a WiFi-only version as there is now, a 3G/4G/LTE (Long-Term Evolution) version, along with a model with more memory. Then those 10-inch versions might include a WiFi-only model and one supporting 3G/4G/LTE.
Rumors about a 7-inch version of Apples iPad continue to make the circuit. Right now, theres no reason to assume that Apple is actually doing this, but seeing the hot sales of 7-inch tablets, its possible that Apple may decide it wants some of that market share. On the other hand, any 7-inch iPad will have to compete in the $250 range, and its unclear if Apple really wants to play in that market. But considering the level of speculation and rumors from occasionally reliable sources, it could happen.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is launching its first corporate-branded device right into the middle of this tablet turmoil. When the Surface surfaces in late October, tablet interest should be red hot. Considering that the Windows RT version of the Surface is aiming right at the iPad, we should see a tablet tussle that eclipses any previous holiday madness. We could see tablet sales crazier than the previous insanity created by the Tickle Me Elmo dolls of earlier holiday seasons.
There is, of course, a dark cloud that goes with this silver lining. Googles 8GB Nexus 7 is apparently not meeting expectations. You can still buy this $199 device from Google Play with no wait time.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.