Hot on the heels of yesterday's striking Vizio Co-Star announcement - a proper Google TV device for $99 that also happens to incorporate the excellent OnLive streaming game service - was Google's big I/O event today. There were several major reveals, including the nifty features of the next version of the Android operating system, Jellybean; the Nexus 7 7" tablet; the Google Nexus Q, a streaming media device that's made in the USA; and Project Glass, Google's upcoming augmented reality glasses. Let's take each one of these in order:
This is a no-brainer positive, with one notable downside. While all of the new features sound excellent, all that excellence will still only be rolled out slowly, if at all, to most Android device owners. Google really has to pressure its partners and others related to their supply chains (carriers among them) to get with the program so the partial myth of device fragmentation can be put to bed once and for all. The reality is it is indeed a problem, especially if you don't take matters into your own hand with rooting and what-not, and one that doesn't have to be as bad as it is in terms of the most popular devices getting updated.
Nexus 7 7" tablet
$199 for the 8GB version and $249 for the 16GB version puts it squarely in competition with the inferior tablets from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Though it would be nice to have even a low quality rear camera, I can't think of too many flaws with this device, making it a superb budget alternative to Apple's dominant iPad. Frankly if the masses don't respond to the Nexus 7, then we can well and truly call it an iPad market, or a market that can only be lulled into a purchase with a familiar eco-system like Amazon's. My money is on this particular tablet being the first pure Android tablet success story. Where Google is able to go from there, though, is anyone's guess, but certainly Microsoft should be taking notes for their Surface line.
Google Nexus Q
This is a $299 streaming media orb that has an optional matching pair of speakers for $399. Yeah, those are the prices, and, despite being made in the USA, is way, way overpriced, especially in light of similarly featured (or even higher featured) competition like the Apple TV, Roku, Xbox 360, PS3, and the aforementioned Vizio Co-Star, among many others. This thing is dead on arrival in my opinion.
I was predicting at the most optimistic late 2013, early 2014 as the earliest for consumers to get these digital glasses, and I think I was about right. $1500 gets developers only (in fact, developers only at the I/O event) early access later in the year, but I suspect this slow roll-out is not only to build up the necessary eco-system and reveal additional issues and bugs, but also to give Google more time to work on improving consumer friendliness, in particular battery life, which will need to last all day between charges. Purely my opinion of course, but I see the battery issue as being the biggest challenge, though who knows if the $1500 price tag is just just a combination barrier to entry/low production run, or much more time will be needed to bring it down to a more consumer friendly price point as well (say, $299 at the most).