Over the last few years, iPhone and iPad app developers have had it easier than Android app developers. Apple’s iOS devices, the iPhone, iPad, and iPod, have dominated the market, even though they are priced higher. We have posted plenty of stats here previously, such as a revelation by popular educational site KinderTown that 70% of searches on their site are done on iPads.
Our experience at SmarterApps is that the market for iOS apps has been very “hot” for the last year. When the Kindle Fire, with its Android operating system, was released by Amazon, we expected it to make a larger dent in the market than it did, but it didn’t really make much difference in Apple’s market dominance. The release of the Nexus 7, though, is helping Android catch up to Apple.
So, how does the Nexus 7 stack up to the competition? We think it’s great for its price. Android has always known that its best market leverage is at a price point lower than Apple’s prices, providing consumers with an option that costs less, and therefore opens the market to a wider demographic of consumer.
In the past, Android tablets have met mixed reviews. Many of the very inexpensive ones were terrible, and probably damaged Android’s brand. The short version is that the Samsung Galaxy and Kindle Fire were great, and most of the rest left consumers wanting a better product.
Enter the Nexus 7 at $199.99. Most tablet “veterans” are surprised and impressed that a $200 tablet looks, feels, and performs like the Nexus 7. The back is rubberised, but has the texture of a leather-covered steering wheel from your favourite sport car. It comes with one speaker, and has a micro-USB connector and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It also has dock contacts, but no dock is presently available.
The Nexus 7 is only 10.45mm thick, which makes it thinner than the Kindle Fire, and weighs in at 340 grams. So, it is thinner and lighter than the Kindle Fire, and also has rounded edges and a nicer “feel” to it. It has a 1.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor, and 1GB of RAM. The base model has 8 GB of storage and it can be upped to 16 GB for an extra $50.
The Nexus 7 also has WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, an accelerometer, GPS, a gyroscope, and a digital compass. It has a screen resolution of 1,280 X 800, which is more than enough for very good definition, whether for text or for 720p videos. The brightness rating is 400 nits. The sound is good enough for a small room, but definitely not enough for a cocktail party.
The Nexus 7 runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, making it the first tablet to run the new system. There are many apps available from Google Play, including games, magazines and music. Obviously, it runs Chrome for its web browser. Those comparing the Nexus 7 to the Kindle Fire family, like the Nexus 7 more. The only place where Google Play is lacking compared to Amazon is content selection. There aren’t nearly as many selections in Google Play as there are on Amazon.
The only common complaint is that it takes about 35 seconds to boot the Nexus 7. However, once it is booted, it is faster than expected. All in all, the Nexus 7 is a great product, and is creating a better market for Android app developers, now and in the future.
So, what does this mean to app creators, builders, and developers? It means that, despite some of the more dire predictions within the industry, Android isn’t going away any time soon. The Nexus 7, along with a new Samsung product, and the Kindle Fire HD, not to mention rumours of a possible $99 Nexus 4 from LG, is going to expand the market for app builders and developers, because the higher quality at a lower price point will make more people “take the plunge” and buy a tablet.
Another factor is that Android is very popular, both on tablets and smartphones, in Asia. Asia is a huge market, and while Apple is more popular in English-speaking countries, Android is extremely popular in Asia. We know that Apple is coming out with the iPad Mini, and Windows “Surface” is coming out for Windows 8 laptops and tablets, but Android looks like they are ready for battle.
A potentially important development: Google Play needs more apps. They don’t have nearly the inventory that Apple does, and need more variety to make Google Play look as good as the Apple App Store.
The bottom line: we think that Android app development is once again as lucrative for our clients as iOS app development.