Google’s tablet ambitions have been no secret. The recently teased Pixel tablet is just the latest in Google’s long line of attempts to crack the elusive smart slate market. However, instead of taking the same stereotypical approach to tablets, Google seems to be building something completely different.
By positioning the Pixel tablet as a competent tablet that also serves as the center of your smart home, Google is giving it a unique proposition. Here’s why I’m convinced this is Google’s best chance of making its tablet a mainstream success.
Would a smart docking option (adding a speaker and power supply) make the Pixel tablet more appealing to you?
Tablets are a luxury, and smart home integration can make them more useful
Ryan Haines/Android Authority
I have tried many tablets over the years. While I loved the tiny profile of the Nexus 7, the bite-sized tablet has rarely, if ever, left my desk. I used it occasionally to check RSS feeds or catch up on social media. Occasionally I used it to stream video content, but it mostly just sat there until it ran out. When it finally came time to put it aside, I struggled to find a use case to justify picking up another tablet.
Years later, my iPad Air does the same thing. I use it as a secondary screen to check to-do lists or browse RSS feeds. If I’m feeling a little adventurous, I’ll put it on the Magic Keyboard case I spent too much money on and work in a coffee shop. However, for the most part, he never leaves my house. I am not alone in this case.
Surveys suggest that most users rarely take their tablets outside.
A recent report suggests that only 12% of users take their tablets outside the home. On its Pixel Tablet teaser page, Google reiterates much of the same. Tablet usage is, understandably, considerably less than smartphone usage, and with phone screens reaching mini-tablet proportions, it doesn’t make sense for most people to carry around two devices. Meanwhile, the emergence of foldable smartphones is expected to further reduce the use of dedicated tablets.
In addition, tablets are often common accessories, and it is not uncommon to see a tablet shared by several family members in a household. By positioning the Pixel tablet as a central smart home accessory instead of a personal tablet, Google is clearly targeting a much wider audience. Especially at a time when demand for tablets is slowing globally.
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Positioning a tablet as a smart home hub isn’t an entirely new approach. Amazon has marketed its Fire tablets as pseudo Echo Show devices for some time. It’s a functional approach, but the whole experience can leave you wanting more. Likewise, Lenovo’s Google Assistant-powered Smart Tab M10 serves dual purposes as a smart display. However, a budget tablet rarely enables high-quality ambient computing experiences.
A tablet as a smart home hub isn’t a new idea, but the Pixel tablet will probably do it better.
Doubling the tablet as a central smart hub device gives the Pixel tablet a unique dual purpose, and much of that depends on Google’s implementation. Unlike Lenovo and Amazon, Google is clearly building the Pixel tablet to be a first-class smart display, which could be the main differentiator.
For one, the speaker and charging station should give it significantly better audio capabilities. While most tablets sit in a corner or on a table, the Pixel tablet on its dock would use its high-quality screen to display images from your Google Photos library – while charged. And that’s just the beginning. The combination of powerful internals and a full-featured operating system should give it plenty of breathing room for many more interesting experiences.
The combination of powerful internals and a comprehensive operating system should enable high-end ambient computing experiences.
If you’re like me, your tablet is probably on a coffee table or shelf. I often find it out of charge when I actually need it. Giving the Pixel tablet a fixed base and more lenses around the house would solve both of these problems.
It’s all about the form factor
Jimmy Westenberg/Android Authority
Interestingly enough, I’ve often wanted to pick up the Nest Hub sitting by my desk. Instant accessibility, home control-centric display and a decent set of speakers make it infinitely more useful to me than a tablet. Add a web browser and basic app support, and the Nest Hub would cover most use cases I need a tablet for. Apparently someone at Google had the same train of thought.
The Pixel tablet’s dock-based form factor encourages accessibility and intermittent access.
The Pixel tablet and its docking station are clearly designed for accessibility and intermittent access. Pick it up when you need to adjust the smart lights and drop it on the dock. Take it out of the speaker whenever you want a bit of Netflix and some chill time, then back to the charger.
Also, while I love the Nest Hub, I found it hard to justify placing multiple units around my smart home. The Pixel tablet’s smart home leanings instantly make it an easy sell for me. Being able to take it with me to different living spaces makes it much more useful as a smart hub, and I’m willing to bet plenty of others would be happy to pay a premium for it.
The modular approach is ideal for those looking to declutter and solve two problems with one device.
I don’t know about you, but I’m all for reducing clutter in my living space, and between my Nest Hub and my tablet, I know which gets used the most. Combine the two and you have the perfect modular approach.
Filling a medium-sized gap in the market
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Google’s approach to solving two problems with one solution has a distinct additional benefit. The global tablet market is at opposite ends of the spectrum. Apple’s iPad portfolio is clearly aimed at a more premium audience. However, peak sales tend to be in the budget tablet segment. There’s a mid-sized hole in the market that Samsung tried to fill without providing a real lens, and the Pixel tablet may be a shoo-in, just like the Pixel 7.
The Pixel tablet could easily bridge the gap between Samsung’s high-end tablets and a wide range of budget options.
The Pixel tablet could inspire buyers to splurge beyond budget tablets. It doesn’t claim to be a high-end pro-focused machine, and it doesn’t need to. A business tablet is just a high-end Netflix machine without an attractive pro-focused app ecosystem – something the Android tablet ecosystem has struggled with. The only reason Samsung’s high-end Galaxy Tabs stand out is Samsung’s software ecosystem. The Pixel tablet is more about giving the public what they want. Focusing on mundane, everyday use cases gives it a chance to be different where it counts.
Looking at the larger Pixel series, it’s clear that Google is happy to play between the mid-range and high-end price segments. If Google can replicate this same pricing strategy with the Pixel tablet, it could have a winner on its hands.
Despite its dual-use design, the Pixel tablet will need to price up to have any chance of succeeding.
Google’s hardware strategy says it’s content to sit in the sub-flagship tablet space. Using the same Tensor G2 processor as the Pixel 7 smartphones will allow it to take advantage of economies of scale and use the same machine learning intelligences that its phones have excelled at. Similarly, the sizable bezels, polycarbonate build, and lack of multiple cameras all point to a device designed to hit a certain price point. In my opinion, this is the right approach for the Pixel tablet to have a chance of succeeding.
The timing, too, works very well. Previous tablet efforts have suffered from a lack of software developed for the big screen. Google needs the Pixel tablet to be a first-class Android tablet; it already claims that the Pixel tablet will be the best way to experience Android on a big screen. With Android 12L’s tablet-focused optimizations, it should hopefully have the software to back up that claim.
The Pixel tablet is Google’s best (last) chance to leave a mark in the tablet space
From what we know about the Pixel tablet so far, it looks like Google’s product team has finally gotten the memo. Tying the Pixel tablet to brand familiarity with the Nest ecosystem and a secondary use case makes a reasonably priced product all the more appealing.
The brand’s familiarity with the Nest ecosystem could give the Pixel tablet a much-needed boost in the arm.
With clear and concerted direction, and an even more definite focus on everyday usability, the Pixel tablet seems to have all the right ingredients for success, especially for someone like me who remains skeptical of the need for a tablet. dedicated.
As the bigger and hopefully better Nest Hub, it can be the center of my smart home ecosystem. When I need a tablet, I no longer have to search the library for it and hope it’s loaded. On paper, the Pixel tablet ticks all the right boxes for me as a casual user. I have a feeling it will suit many other users as well.
Continue reading: The Pixel tablet could be the future of smart home displays
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