Tablets are all the rage. Consumers around the globe are flocking to stores to buy products like the Apple iPad or the Amazon Kindle Fire, and countless companies, seeing that trend, are trying to break into that market. From big companies to small, just about every tablet maker hopes it can deliver a product that consumers and even enterprise users would be happy to use.
Surprisingly, though, Google is one of the few major companies that hasn’t tried to enter the tablet market with a product of its own. In fact, the search giant has been content to simply offer tablet manufacturers the Android mobile operating system and then sit back to see if anybody can really make a go of it.
However, in a recent interview,Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt mistakenly let it slip that the search company is planning to launch a tablet in the next six months. Now pundits are speculating about what the device will offer.
Read on to find out what we’d like to see in a Google-branded tablet:
1. An Android version that’s ready for primetime
One of the biggest mistakes Google made this year was to make Android 3.0 Honeycomb available to its vendor partners before it was ready. When the Motorola Xoom launched, the device fell short immediately because of its poor Android installation. In the Google-branded tablet, the search giant must offer an ideal software experience. If it doesn’t, it’ll be in for trouble.
2. End-to-end Google development
Google has in the past used its own corporate branding on smartphones. However, those devices were designed by third-party vendors. If Google is indeed working on a tablet, it should control all facets of its development.Firms that control the hardware and the software are typically more successful. Just ask Apple.
3. Multiple screen sizes
Although earlier in the year it seemed consumers really only wanted tablets with big displays, like the 9.7-inch flavor in Apple’s iPad,the Kindle Fire has thrown that idea on its head. Now, it appears customers are just fine with 7-inch tablets. If Google wants to see its tablet become a success, it should offer multiple screen sizes, including 7- and 10.1-inch offerings.
4. Multiple price points
Along with multiple sizes, it’s important for Google to remember that different consumers want different features and they want them all at varying prices. Therefore, Google would be smart to offer its tablet versions at different prices. A cheap model could go for, say, $199, while a top-of-the-line option could retail for $799. The move could maximize the tablet’s market appeal.
Quad-Core Processors Are Essential
5. 4G networking
Tablets are designed to be mobile. And companies that don’t realize that are nearly universally destined to fail. With that in mind,Google should make sure to include 4G networking in its tablet. The move would appeal to both consumers and enterprise users looking to make employees a bit more productive.
6. Dual cameras
Ever since Apple released the iPad 2, complete with both a front- and rear-facing camera, it’s become an absolute necessity for competing makers to add them in their tablets. At this point, Google doesn’t have much of a choice on offering dual cameras. But if the search giant can bundle a software service, like FaceTime, with its tablet that takes advantage of those cameras, it can go a long way in putting some pressure on Apple.
7. A quad-core processor
In 2012, all the talk in the mobile processor market will be about quad-core processors. Like every other device that will come out next year, including the iPad 3, Google’s tablet must feature quad cores. The advanced processor will improve software responsiveness, dramatically increase game-playing quality and possibly put lightweight notebooks on notice.
8. Google’s many services built in
If Google is good at anything,it’s bundling its many services, including Google Docs, Gmail and Google Music, with its product platforms. In the Google tablet, the company should do the same. As Apple and Amazon have proved with the iPad and Kindle Fire, respectively, customers really like the idea of using the tablet maker’s built-in application services. Google has services to scratch every itch. And it should use them in its tablet.
9. Unique designs
Although Sony hasn’t been able to carve out a significant portion of the tablet market for itself, the company’s S1 and S2 tablets are arguably the most unique slates we’ve seen yet. The dual-screen clamshell design is especially interesting. That’s not to say Google should copy Sony’s design, but it would be nice if the search giant could come up with something that’s similarly unique. The tablet market is filled with devices that feature a big screen with a small, black bezel. Google should come along and set a new standard for design.
10. Security, security, security
If there has been any black mark on Google’s Android platform so far, it has been its security issues. If they get worse in 2012, Google could be in for a world of trouble. But before that happens, the search company should focus heavily on security for its tablet. From the software to the hardware, Google must do everything it can to make its tablet the most secure option on the market. Not doing so would put its tablet-and maybe even its mobile division-in jeopardy.