Google Breaks Protocol, Promotes Nexus 7 Tablet on Home Page

Google took its promotion of the Nexus 7 to a new level, posting an ad for the tablet on its usually sparse home page. The timing of move, following the verdict of the Samsung-Apple case, is curious.

Google officials have been fastidious about tidying up Google's home page. They have experimented with removing features or making them fade in or out, trying for a slate that's little more than a logo and a search button. So it's curious, then, that some time around Aug. 28, they posted an ad for the Google Nexus 7 on the home age.

Under Google Search and I'm Feeling Lucky buttons is a tag line: "The playground is open: The new $199 tablet from Google," and below, an animation of the Nexus 7 pokes up from a pocket of sorts.

It's arguably keeping with the Google aesthetic-it's not a banner ad, or really any kind of traditional ad format, muddying up Google's clean layout. But the timing of the ad is interesting. Google introduced the Nexus 7 in July. Why tie the tablet to its heavily trafficked site now? Is this a response to the verdict of the Apple-Samsung patent trial (where Samsung was ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion for infringing on Apple patents), which many say was indirectly aimed at Google?

On Forbes Aug. 28, Endpoint Technologies principal analyst Roger Kay wrote that "Apple's vehemence in this case, its unwillingness to license its intellectual property to Samsung on reasonable terms, is really aimed at Google. Apple's crucifixion of Samsung is just a head piked on a stake at the edge of Google's territory."

Maybe. Maybe not.

"If Google is pushing Nexus more than before, it is probably not so much a jab at Apple as an attempt to enhance the Android brand that has been somewhat tarnished by the Samsung judgment," Ezra Gottheil, senior analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK. "I think the verdict has confused consumers somewhat about the status and future of Android, even though few of the patents for which Samsung was censured are important aspects of Android. So promoting Nexus is more a defensive measure than an offensive one.

Gottheil added that, like just about everyone else, he thinks a smaller iPad at a lower price is just around the corner.

"No matter what is going on with Samsung, it makes sense for Google to try to move Nexus units before the arrival of a potentially damaging competitor. In that sense, the uptick in marketing may be aimed at Apple, but it's not retribution for the lawsuit. It's simply good marketing."

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, was similarly generous in his opinions of Google's motives.

"Though I don't doubt that Google and Apple are on a converging course, I believe that this is more a reflection of a broader trend that finds OS makers stepping into device design after many traditional OEMs and ODMs appear to fumble the ball," King told eWEEK. "That's certainly the case for Google's Nexus 7, which succeeded after the failure of any number Android-based tablets. Plus, Microsoft appears to be following Google's lead in its Surface tablets (though the company is taking a more proactive approach, leapfrogging its OEM partners by means of Windows RT)."

Even Kay, when asked whether the new ad might be part of Google's response to what Apple staked at the edge of its property, found the two to be separate.

"I think the timing is just serendipitous," Kay said. "But it does highlight the fact that Google hasn't said much related to the trial. Now, it's promoting its platform, but one would have expected this anyway."

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