Despite failing in the smartphone market, Google is looking to enter the hardware business once again with a tablet powered by its own Android operating system. Google appears to be aiming square between the eyes of the market-dominant Apple iPad.
The Wall Street Journal cites "people familiar with the matter" revealing that Google will sell co-branded tablets directly to consumers through online stores like Amazon.com. Google reportedly hopes to boost sales of Android-based tablets.
Google's tablet move could be a tie-in with its $12.5 billion Motorola acquisition. Federal regulators in both the U.S. and Europe have already approved the merger. Google now waits on China. Motorola tablets could be among the first fruits of the deal.
Apple's Hard Lesson
We spoke with Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, to get his thoughts on the rumors. In short, he believes it's a bad idea.
"It seems like Google is doing everything they possibly can to piss off their Android licensees," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "The Nexus phone upset them, and coming out with a Google tablet, even if it's marginally successful, will kill the ecosystem because nobody wants to license from a company that they are competing with."
Enderle said market history proves that competing with licensees doesn't work. Either the licensor dominates the market or the licensee overtakes the licensor. Apple found this out the hard way when then-CEO Gil Amelio decided to license the Mac operating system. Apple's licensees proved much more successful than Apple and the company brought Steve Jobs back to fix the mess.
"The rule of thumb is you never license from a company you are competing with because there's no way you can win," Enderle said. "Companies that license the technology are always going to have the advantage and, if they don't, they will turn off the spigot."
Google could not immediately be reached for comment. Google declined to comment to The Wall Street Journal. But Google seems ready to do something to challenge Apple where tablet makers like Samsung, Research In Motion, Hewlett-Packard and Dell have failed.
Google likely also smells opportunity.
According to IDC's March data , worldwide tablet shipments rose by 56 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. More than 28 million tablets shipped. That marks a 155 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2010. IDC has increased its 2012 tablet forecast to 106.1 million units, up from its previous forecast of 87.7 million units. (continued...)
Posted: 2012-03-31 @ 3:02am PT
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