It’s important to note that if we had the Chrome browser on an Android tablet, why would we want a Chromebook? For the price of a Chromebook you could pick up an Android tablet with a keyboard that connects via dock or bluetooth. You would have the same functionality, plus the added capabilities of Android.
I’m currently using a Chromebook as my main mobile machine, having had my beloved MacBook Air stolen. Using one is a culture shock, and it’s a profoundly different view of the world. But I’d much rather have it than a crappy Android tablet and some kind of hokey docking station (the keyboard on the Samsung is lovely).
When better equipped (though bulkier) netbooks can be had for $250, tablet-makers need to set their sights below $200. There is just one problem: the cost of the components currently used comes to more than that. According to the market research firm iSuppli, the basic TouchPad cost Hewlett-Packard $306 to build.
At the moment, as The Economist correctly points out, Google’s strategy isn’t working either:
But the ultimate killer feature that Android and other tablets have failed to replicate is the care Apple took from the start to ensure enough iPhone applications were available that took full advantage of the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. Today, over 90,000 of the 475,000 applications available online from Apple’s App Store fully exploit the much larger screen size. By contrast, only a paltry 300 or so of the nearly 300,000 apps for Android phones have been fully optimised for the Honeycomb version of the Android operating system developed for tablets—though many of the rest scale up with varying degrees of success.
There simply isn’t enough incentive at the moment to develop applications which fully take advantage of Honeycomb. And Google doesn’t appear to be pushing developers to do it.
Google TV, which allows viewers to mix Web and television content on TV screens via a browser, has received lukewarm reviews and been blocked by the major U.S. networks since its launch in the United States in October.
Schmidt told the Edinburgh television festival its lack of success so far was partly because it was a feature designed into televisions, devices which consumers tend to replace only about once every five years.
It’s far too early to write Google TV off, despite its undoubted failures so far. And it shouldn’t be compared to Apple TV, which, I think, has been much more successful so far. The two things are very, very different: Google TV is an attempt to create a platform that lets content creators mix broadcast TV with the web and applications, while Apple TV is simply a (very useful) little box which lets you rent films and stream stuff to your TV from a variety of platforms. In a sense, Apple TV is mis-named: while it links to a TV, it’s not “TV” in the broadcast sense.
This certainly isn’t true in my experience: sometimes, the ads provide a better link than the first page of Google’s results, because the relevance algorithms which determine what ads are surfaced are really rather good.
We don’t allow ads to be displayed on our results pages unless they are relevant where they are shown. And we firmly believe that ads can provide useful information if, and only if, they are relevant to what you wish to find–so it‘s possible that certain searches won’t lead to any ads at all.
And this is nothing new. Here’s Larry Page, talking in 2007:
For users, we strive to produce relevant advertising as good as the main content or search results.
In other words, Google sees the ads not only as a method of making money, but – if they do it right – a secondary way to improve the value of the search engine to users. If they get the algorithms which determine which ads are surfaced right, they’ll offer something that’s relevant and useful to the user, while being different to the actual search results.
From their business perspective, too, search results cannot be worse with ads than without – because that would mean Google’s business failing. If what John says were true, the click-through1 rates on search ads would be poor – and billions of dollars of Google profits suggest they’re not.
Strictly speaking, what is important to Google isn’t just the click-through rate, but the “long click” – ie. does the user stay away after the click, indicating that they’ve found what they wanted, or do they come back and click again, indicating they haven’t? The long-click rate is one of the key variables that Google uses to determine relevancy in search results, and although I don’t know this for sure I’d be very surprised if it isn’t a key determinant in the relevancy of ads, too. Remember: Google ads aren’t simply positioned according to the highest bidder. Relevancy is a factor as well. ↩
Note: that’s $1.4 billion in revenues, not profits. And that includes the music side, which is over 10 years old. And further note that Apple doesn’t mention profits from the iTunes Store at all. If they were making big bank, Apple would brag about it. I’m pretty sure the iTunes Store is profitable, but it’s insignificant in the grand scheme of Apple’s income. And yet that’s the business Mike Arrington thinks HP should focus on while selling piece of crap $200 tablets.
It’s worth noting that Apple, which is one of the most profitable companies in tech, is also one of the clearest examples of focus when it comes to business model. For Apple, every product has to be profitable: it doesn’t give away hardware in order to sell you software or music or apps. That’s simply not where it makes the big bucks. As I pointed out in the comments on Arrington’s TechCrunch piece, Apple makes about double the profit on iPad alone as it makes in revenue on iTunes, including music, apps, and everything else.
The obvious rejoinder to this is Google, which does give away a whole of lot stuff. But Google isn’t in the same business: it sells ads, not hardware or software, and most of its products are designed either to create inventory to sell more ads, or gather data which helps it sell better and more effective ads.
Those people speculating that Google will use its new-found mobile hardware division to produce super-cheap Android phones, subsidised by advertising, understand neither the ad market nor Google’s business model.
In the conversation, Chris Soghoian pointed to Google’s refusal to implement Do-Not-Track on its browsers or servers as a violation of this. I’m not so sure it is. I’d actually argue that not implementing do-not-track is, from Google’s perspective, acting in the user’s best interests.
Here’s how the argument goes: the web runs on ads. Ads can either be irrelevant, or relevant. Irrelevant ads waste the time of the user, and the money of the advertiser. They’re useless to the user. Relevant ads, on the other hand, are actually useful to the user – being delivered a good offer or product at the right time, when you’re actually interested in that product category, is useful.
Hence, do-not-track, which prevents Google and others making ads more relevant (and thus useful) is user-hostile.
I’m not saying that I think that argument is right, but I think it’s a rational argument – and a consistent one with “don’t be evil”.
It’s not even out yet, and already the Lenovo IdeaPad — the Chinese manufacturer’s attempt to crack the tablet market — is getting something of a savaging:
The IdeaPad K1 has been in development in one form or another for a year and a half, yet it still isn’t ready. And even if it had hit the market a year ago, it wouldn’t have been good enough (at least in its current form) to go head-to-head with the original iPad. The K1′s hardware is chunky and cheap-feeling, its screen is washed out, and the software is unstable to the point of being unusable at times. It sounds harsh, but when you can pick up the iPad 2 or the Galaxy Tab 2 for just $499, the $50 you save by getting a K1 doesn’t seem close to worth it — unless, of course, you think there’s some value in buggy software.
So it’s shitty hardware, buggy software, and not even comparable to the iPad of a year ago?
It certainly isn’t getting anywhere near the point that Lenovo’s CEO, Yang Yuanquing, is after:
Apple only covers the top tier. With a $500 price you cannot go to the small cities, townships, low salary class, low income class. I don’t want to say we want to significantly lower the price, rather our strategy is to provide more categories, to cover different market segments.
So much for that. If Lenovo can make an expensive tablet this bad, just how bad will one be if they push the price down?
And as I’ve said many times over the years, Web 2.0 IS ALL ABOUT personal sovereignty. About using media to do something meaningful, WITHOUT someone else giving you permission first, without having to rely on anyone else’s resources, authority and money. Self-sufficiency. Exactly.i.e. not waiting for the green light. In the blogosphere, the only light IS the green light.
This is something the people complaining about “real names” policies need to remember. If you’re posting content on someone else’s site, you’re playing by someone else’s rules. If you’re not happy about that, don’t keep asking permission – pleading with the king for a “fair” approach won’t get you far. Do it yourself.