Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang explains why Android tablet sales have been disappointing

Wed, May 18, 2011

Analysis, News

You know you have a hit product when you sell a few million units a quarter and still can’t keep up with customer demand. Such is the case with Apple and the iPad 2.

But when we take a look at the Android side of the coin, we see a completely different story.

Though Google is aggressively pushing out its Honeycomb Android 3.0 OS, Android tablets thus far have been unmitigated dudes. From the Motorola Xoom to the RIM Playbook, tablet manufacturers are quickly finding out that success in the smartphone market does not translates into success in the tablet space.

And while the good folks in Cupertino are no doubt thrilled by strong iPad 2 sales and the inability of iPad competitors to create a dent in the iPad’s armor, not everyone is sitting back with a glass of wine and rejoicing at Apple’s good fortune.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, for instance, is disappointed in how Android tablets have performed thus far, and explained to CNET in a recent interview his frustration at where he thinks companies like Motorola are going wrong.

While many are quick to point out the dearth of apps available for Android tablets, Huang things the problem runs even deeper.

“It’s a point of sales problem,” Huang explained. “It’s an expertise at retail problem. It’s a marketing problem to consumers. It is a price point problem.”

“The baseline configuration included 3G when it shouldn’t have,” Huang continued. “Tablets should have a Wi-Fi configuration and be more affordable. And those are the ones that were selling more rapidly than the 3G and fully configured ones.”

Indeed, Motorola quickly had to lower the price on the Xoom when it became apparent that units weren’t moving off of store shelves. But even with that price reduction, sales still haven’t been all that hot.

And bringing things full circle, Huang notes, “And it’s a software richness of content problem.”

Not surprisingly, Huang was quick to follow up his critique with an upbeat assessment of upcoming products, pointing out that this is only the first crop of Android tablets and not all product categories get off to a running start. “But those problems are all getting solved. The rate at which these Honeycomb Tegra 2 tablets are being improved is really stunning. I think all of the manufacturers have now recognized that and readjusted their plans,” he said.

But are they really getting solved?

The thing is, the aforementioned problems were not barriers to entry for smartphones manufacturers. After all, making calls is the “killer app” and customers can easily find and purchase competing smartphones via proxy at any number of carrier stores. Those rubrics, however, clearly don’t translate into the tablet space and that’s why the adoption of iPad competitors will map out to a much weaker trajectory compared to the iPhone competitors of yore and today.

via CNET


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. RYZ Says:

    The problem is everybody else is a copycat. They are all playing into Apple’s strength. There is no product differentiation.

    If one of these tablets come with a detachable Bluetooth earpiece that can be used to make calls through the tablet, there could be more buy in. This will differentiate the tablet from the iPad and there are bound to be people interested in this function. A 7in tablet may be too big as a standalone phone but if it stays in the bag or a carrying case while the call is made through the BT headset, it may just work.

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