Sunday, April 29, 2012

Capacity Focus, 40: Google's Asus-built Nexus Android Tegra-2 dual ARM processor core Tablet, US$ 149, come July?

SlashGear is reporting that Google expects to release an Asus-built Android 7" tablet; it seems (from a hint in a Guardian article) "probably" by July:

The (apparently now "scrapped") proposed
Asus MeMo 370T, which is the
"ancestor" for the Google Nexus

According to Chris Davis of SlashGear, in the same April 6th report:

Currently, the Nexus tablet’s specifications are believed to include a 7-inch display – potentially running at 1280 x 800 resolution, a jump from the more typical 1024 x 600 – along with NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 chipset and WiFi connectivity, though no cellular modem. OS is Ice Cream Sandwich, the first version of Android specifically designed to run on both phones and tablets.

Speculation that Google could be delaying the planned release so as to preload the next-gen version of Android, Jelly Bean, is unfounded the sources claim. Such a move would supposedly require some reworking of the current design, which would take Google and ASUS longer than the two month schedule change being talked about now.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard of potential spec changes so as to shave away at the market price. Last month, Google was tipped to be ditching Tegra 3 in favor of a cheaper chip – potentially the previous-gen Tegra 2 – with the design for the slate repurposing the Eee Pad MeMo 370T that ASUS showed us at CES 2012 in January.
Wikipedia gives us a heads up on the Nvidia Tegra ARM architecture chip, where Tegra-2 is dual processor core and Tegra-3 is quad core:
Tegra, developed by Nvidia, is a system on a chip (SoC) series for mobile devices such as smartphones, personal digital assistants, and mobile Internet devices. The Tegra integrates the ARM architecture processor central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), northbridge, southbridge, and memory controller onto one package. The series emphasizes low power consumption and high performance for playing audio and video.
Apparently, the intention had been to go for a quad core, but that would perhaps have added US$50 - 100 to the cost. That would not be viable for a 7" tablet, the emerging "economy" form factor.

Similarly, it is worth noting that Windows 8, slated for release within a year, has a version, RT, for the ARM chip. The new Windows is set up to come up in a tablet-oriented format, and one will have to pull up an option to go to the more familiar Windows interface, even with a conventional desktop or laptop pc.

To get some perspective, we could clip an April 16th Guardian report:
Gartner's Carolina Milanesi put out a forecast for the tablet market last week in which she predicted that Apple will continue to dominate the field through to 2016, selling 169m per year by 2016 (compared to just under 40m last year), while Android tablets will ship 137m (compared to 17.3m last year) and Windows 8-based tablets only 43m (in 2011: 0).
Graphic (fair use), where the dotted lines are the April 11 forecast and the solid ones the current forecast:

In short the Tablet market is lagging early optimistic forecasts, but will plainly be in the hundreds of millions over the next several years. The tablet is here to stay, and in particular the Android tablet is here to stay. That gets a boost from how Android smart phones are selling very well thank you.

But, where does this open up room for the education tablet that has been under discussion?

Let's remember the Ubislate, which is US$ 60 - 70 or so, from India, though the resistive technology screen is more a stylus screen than a touch screen. (Capacitive touch seems to be better for the finger.) 

The Coby Kyros MID 7022 gives a picture of the current  7" "whitebox" budget tablet market (sugg, retail US$ 175):

This is the market product/price point that, credibly, is about to be hit by what is likely to be a US$ 150 Google brand dual core device. When the dust settles, such devices will have to move down to perhaps US$ 30 or more clear below the Google device, or it will make sense to pay a bit more and go for a big name brand, higher performance device. Nextag lists it as US$122 - 166, from several sellers.

So, the educational tablet at an attractive price-point clearly looms over the horizon. END