Google's Android 3.0 Gingerbread is too geeky to appeal to mainstream buyers, according to analyst Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research. He calls the new tablet operating system a thing designed "by the geeks, for the geeks, and of the geeks" and says that "Honeycomb is insignificant to Google revenues" implying the platform's upcoming tablets have little chance of lightening the average buyer's purse.
These comments were made after Chowdhry experienced the Motorola Xoom tablet first-hand, so he isn't simply spouting-off without any provocation. He complained of crashes, inconsistent battery life and other usability quibbles that may prove off-putting to the gadget fan not techy enough to be swayed into complacency by the openness and customisation the Android platform offers. Looming large over Chowdry's arguments of course is the iPad 2, which launched today in the US and features very few of these usability issues.
Chowdry cites Google's origins in free web services like Gmail and Google Maps as the source of the problems inherent in its approach to Android 3.0 and the tablet market. Where people may be happy to forgive the glitchier elements of Google's free services, Chowdry says "the consumer is unforgiving" when it comes to similar issues within an expensive tablet.
Chowdry doesn't however address the huge success Google has attained in the smartphone market, in spite of often-glitchy software and the significant fragmentation of Android thanks to the wide selection of OS versions and custom manufacturer-made interfaces littering the market. When many are happy to shell-out hundreds of pounds on an Android phone, is an Android tablet really such a dramatically different proposition?
Within the first wave of Android 3.0 tablets coming this year, the Motorola Xoom is the product designed with the heartiest helping-hand from Google itself - although it still bears Motorola's branding unlike the HTC-produced Google Nexus One and Samsung-made Nexus S, Google wants us to think of the Xoom as the first "official" Honeycomb device. It offers a 1GHz dual-core processor, 10.1in screen and up to 64GB of internal storage. We'll be back soon with a full review of the Xoom, so stay tuned for our verdict.