Last week, Google announced the follow-up to their — at the very least — mildly popular tablet, the Nexus 7. Sporting a slimmer form factor, improved build quality, lengthy battery life, quicker and more robust components, and, most importantly, a high-density display, the second Nexus 7 improves upon its predecessor in virtually every regard.
Although I have yet to purchase one — and I doubt I ever will — I can unequivocally state that I'm impressed with the work Google and ASUS have accomplished in the past twelve months. For $229, the Nexus 7 is a competent, quick, and good-looking tablet. It ticks many (many ) of the right boxes from the outset, which is a bafflingly rare phenomenon in the modern world of non-Apple tablets.
For all of this, I mean to state that — as a multi-generation iPad and original Nexus 7 owner — I can recognize and appreciate improvement and hard-work when I witness it. The original Nexus 7 set the receptive stage for the iPad mini — which, of course, had been long in development prior to Google's product — and it has done so again this summer. Whether it out-performs the mini or not in the marketplace (it won't), it has unquestionably contributed something to the competitive landscape that others have not and, in doing so, it utterly deserves our objective and agnostic intrigue.
Regardless of your particular allegiance to one company or another, it's important to recognize the competitive environment in as fair and even-handed a manner as possible. In that spirit — and in my opinion — the second Nexus 7 certainly does plenty to further the competition between itself and its competitors — including Apple.
The claim that Android lacks the compelling apps of the iOS ecosystem is simply no longer accurate. Perhaps it takes slightly longer for some of them to arrive, but, increasingly, the apps you do find can appear in a more robust form. Vine, for instance, leverages the versatility of the OS to allow for a great many productive and time-saving solutions for engaging with the app. The same goes for the likes of Svpply, Pinterest, and so forth.
Yes, there are elements lacking, but those are frequently compensated for in a great many nuanced and experiential enhancements (e.g., actionable notifications). I'm not saying that Android is superior to iOS — it's fundamentally different — but I will say that the reflexive need to cut away at a competing OS based upon pre-existing biases is shallow and unbecoming.
On that particular note, it's telling that people are quite so focused upon dispelling sales reports regarding the Nexus 7's performance. The validity of these reports is, indeed, questionable, but citing such questionable reports only to mightily dispel them seems childish. What does it serve to stand tall and deride Google from within a competitive ecosystem? Yes, it stokes aggressions and emotions and drives page views, but it contributes nothing to the larger conversation.
As a community, we so selectively cite analysis from various firms based upon whether their opinions befit our own brand-related predilections. Rather than claiming to look objectively at sales reports — whenever they're available and transparent, which is admittedly a rarity — perhaps we ought to focus upon the inherent goodness of one product over another. Rather than attempting to provide empirical proof that one company is out-performing another or that a competition is swaying far over to one product than another, would it really be too difficult to simply appreciate the achievements of one obviously competitive product based upon its merits alone? Rather than focusing on a product's failure, could we not focus on what it contributed? Let's leave the analysis and selective usage of reporting to the companies who rely upon them, rather than attempting to further our tribalistic agendas.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft do not require you to defend their products. If you're a Google fan and you show up to The Verge to simply write that iOS is still ostensibly locked down, rather than appreciating the amazing hardware and software engineering at hand, you're utterly missing the point. The same goes for those who show up to the review of the second Nexus 7 to only point out that there appears to be a slight element of hypocrisy in the reviewer's opinion.
The second Nexus 7 is being awarded with a great many positive reviews and plaudits. And yet, for some reason, I continue to see people inanely nit-picking at the verbiage of each review to try to highlight flaws in the subjective thinking of the reviewer.
In terms of specifics, The Verge 's review of the second Nexus 7 is obviously laced with an emotional joy and appreciation for the device. The tablet has registered with the reviewer, David Pierce, on a level of delight and happiness. Surely, whether you're an Apple or Google fan, that ought to mean something positive to you? At the very least, is it not interesting? Is the only response to decry his thought process?
We, as a community, reside in a world reliant upon intelligent and measured opinion. It is not our responsibility to relentlessly hold to brand allegiances and obviously one-sided analysis. It is our responsibility to further a collective conversation concerning our industry as a whole.
Today, however, we seem to tribally resolve to cheerlead regardless of more reasonable circumstantial evidence at hand. Regardless of validity, we feel the need to continually make the argument that Google is, indeed, evil, that Amazon shareholders are morons, or that Apple never pays attention to the competitive movements of its rivals.
Well, on that note, the notion that Apple resides in a competitive vacuum bereft of care for the behavior of its closest rivals is a fallacy. And Amazon's profit to revenue ratio is not a sign of a dying company and the rise in share price is not idiocy, it's people recognizing the intelligent brinkmanship within Jeff Bezos' re-investment strategy when coupled with lowering margins. And, equally, whilst Google is utterly guilty of privacy violations, it certainly does not border upon cartoonish super-villainy. Amazon, Apple, and Google — as publicly-held companies — certainly pay attention to the movements of their closest competitors and they are responsible to their shareholders and customers to behave in a responsible manner.
In that light, you'd better believe that, if Apple doesn't incorporate a Retina-calibre display into the (presumably) impending iPad mini, there will be sincere concern internally over that competitive lapse. Moreover, if you genuinely believe Google's out to read your inane emails to your mother for some juicy tidbits about what she's done in the garden today, you're paranoid. And if you think Amazon's simply going to fall in on itself like a decrepit structure, you're dreaming.
To the point at hand, it's important to recognize that the Nexus 7 iterates in a competitive, impressive, and endearing manner. Perhaps you disagree with Google's corporate philosophies or you do not wish to delve into their ecosystem — that's more than fair — but, regardless, that's not justification to decry a product on principle alone. Worse, it certainly does not justify the selective arrangement of analysis and opinion to enforce your arbitrary opinion.
The iPad mini will outsell the Nexus 7, but that's not to say the Nexus 7 is without merit. If you cannot see that and you cannot appreciate the work done by Apple's closest competitors — work that has a direct and obvious correlation to what Apple will do in future — then you're missing a grander and more interesting picture.
Highlight inadequacies and failings, but do so with open eyes to the broader landscape. In a world of curated followings and news resources, it's far too easy to fall into the genuine belief that even our most extreme opinions are justified. And that's truly dangerous.
Adhering to arbitrary allegiances and marrying oneself to analysts when it's most convenient makes for a reductive and negative view of the marketplace. The notion that Apple builds the very best products and operating systems simply does not have to preclude the concept that its competitors are doing good and impressive things too. Conversely, the notion that Apple's got a stranglehold on its supply chain and has a locked down operating system does not preclude an amazing all-round experience.
The Internet is a vast chasm of disproportionately aggressive opinion, but our community — one we tout as a bastion of intelligence and thoughtfulness — does not have to exist in such a manner. We're better than that and we're irrefutably capable of far more.