In beating Amazon to a broader international rollout with its media tablet, Google is laying an essentially uncontested claim to three important English-speaking markets. Last summer’s £89 fire sale of HP TouchPads was greeted with such a ravenous appetite that most stores sold out of the webOS slate within minutes. That suggests there’s a price point where buyers are no longer discerning about things like app ecosystems and future support, and simply feel compelled by a well known brand sold at a super low cost. The 8GB Nexus 7 costs double the TouchPad’s rock-bottom price in the UK, at £159, but that’s still far below any comparable device in the local market. Apple will sell you a second-gen iPad for £329, and you might be able to find a Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition for around £280, but there’s no pesky Kindle Fire to put a crimp in Google’s plans.
Speaking with 70Decibels’ founder, Myke Hurley, yesterday afternoon, we both agreed that the true significance of Google’s announcements lied within its ambitious international expansion. Boasting a £159 price-point in the U.K., the Nexus 7 is in a strikingly strong position for its impending launch.
Regardless of Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s best efforts in the field, neither has a competent grasp of mass market mindshare outside of the United States. Google, on the other hand, is a household brand that is largely trusted by the average consumer. Preying upon the low-end of the marketplace whilst offering a competent media arsenal to support it, I cannot imagine that the Nexus 7 will fall upon deaf ears in such a market.
In many respects, the Nexus 7 marks the point at which the true Android experience will attain mass market recognition. Previously marred by poor skinning efforts by third party manufacturers, Google’s flagship Nexus line has often been overlooked in terms of sales and attention. With the Nexus 7, however, a vanilla version of Android will be available at a no-brainer price-point for the mass market.
Despite any outstanding issues concerning the app environment, the Nexus 7 is primarily focused upon the distribution of media — not a multi-faceted app or productivity experience. Insofar as a broad variety of film, television, and literature is available, the end-user remains happy, and Google is able to subsidize the cost of its tablet.
Although the Nexus 7 is certainly not a direct competitor for the iPad, I imagine that it will succeed in usurping a fair quantity of sales for the low-end of the market. Perhaps that’s not a recipe for immediate success, but it’s certainly something to be wary of moving forward.