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At the Google I/O 2012 conference, Google unveiled the Nexus 7 tablet. A “pure” Android device built by Asus, the Nexus 7 will cost $199 or $249, depending on whether you opt for 8GB or 16GB of storage. Notable specs include a 1,280 x 800 seven-inch screen, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). While the specs are nice, the remarkable thing about this product is its price point. It offers a lot of tablet-computing power for a very low price.
In some ways, the Nexus 7 will compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire. This $199 tablet runs a highly customized version of Android that’s built around Amazon’s digital services. While many pundits and Asus execs have said that the Nexus 7 is going after the Kindle Fire, there are huge differences in the types of customers each product appeals. Certainly there’s some overlap, but for the most part I don’t believe that the Nexus 7 will disrupt Kindle Fire sales (much). Let’s break it down.
The Kindle Fire is a general consumer device. Amazon is marvelous at marketing to and serving general consumers. These buyers won’t or don’t care about the superior specs of the Nexus 7. They’re comfortable with Amazon and content to live in the company’s somewhat limited (though very polished) digital ecosystem.
The Nexus 7 is an enthusiast device. As amazing a company as Google is, it has a poor track record as a consumer electronics company. Nerds love Google Nexus products, but “real” people buy Samsung Galaxy devices. Recently, Google started selling the Galaxy Nexus phone directly to consumers through its Google Play store. It will be interesting to see how a new device, like the Nexus 7, fares on Google Play. At best, it still won’t get the kind of exposure and marketing push that the Kindle Fire enjoys.
The Kindle Fire has a limited reach. The Fire started off as a U.S.-only device. I don’t expect it to be available in more than a handful of countries by the end of the year. This is by design, of course. Amazon will only sell the Kindle Fire in regions where it has the rights to digital content and can adequately support consumers. By contrast, the Nexus 7 will be available in many more territories than the Kindle Fire by the end of the year.
The Dad Test. I bought a Kindle Fire for my Dad last Christmas. He’s an Amazon customer. He’s familiar with the company’s buying experience. The customized UI was easy for him to learn and understand. For people like my Dad, the Kindle Fire is an excellent device.
The Nerd Test. For people like you and me, the Nexus 7 is a much better choice. I’m familiar with the quirks of Android and Google Play. I will play games that take advantage of the power of Nexus 7’s Tegra 3 processor (can’t wait for Eden to GREEEEN!). I appreciate that fact that Nexus devices get Android updates sooner than other phones and tablets. The Nexus 7 is totally in my wheelhouse.
Anyway, I’d love to hear what you guys think about the Nexus 7 and how it will fare against the Amazon Kindle Fire. Sound off in the comments section (please)!