“I’ve always thought it would be really wonderful to have a little box, a sort of slate that you could carry along with you.”
Steve Jobs, 1984
He followed up on that and introduced iPad.
“iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”
Steve Jobs, 2010
Steve Jobs was right in so many ways in introducing iPad (then). And since then I find the competition to be nearly non-existent or competing with “toothless” Tablets with the intention to ripoff the buyer/user !
Context : My Devices
On the devices I use today – it’s been all Apple – MacBook Pro 13″, iPhone 7, Android Phones from Lenovo, Xiaomi for Family, iPad Air, Xiaomi MiPad for kids.
Over years, I have owned and personally used iPad in both 9.7″ and 8″ dimensions. As time passed, I had sold some of them, broke one of them and gave others to my family members.
Context : My Usage Pattern
My usage of my Mac and iPhone is mostly segment into 4 categories :
- Work – Email, Calendar, Access to documents to attach, Time-Organizers,
Browser ( occasional ) and Apps ( which run mostly on my Mac )
- Search & Find – Browsers, Maps, Calendar, Few Apps
- Social – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Photo Sharing, Browsing
- Hobbies – Music, PhotoProcessing, Movie Watching, Reading, Games ( not much )
I don’t use Tablets for taking photos and am equally not interested to hold a 7″, 8″ or 9″ device to make or receive phone-calls.
In essence, a WiFi Tablet which can do a good job ( performance ) and good bang for the buck ( value ), will help me in many ways ( portability ).
For anything else, that needs more of my time or need to use my phone or need to type, existing other devices can fill in.
Curiosity and Need
All this while, I had been watching the Android ecosystem develop across a spectrum of mobile devices and it’s dimensions and got curious to see if I can use an Android tablet for my “routine needs”.
Problems In The Android World
Android ecosystem “still” is fragmented to 1000 pieces and still breaking apart. There are multitude of problems.
Problem of the Android OS – The OS is still a memory hogger. It follows the pattern of Windows almost entirely. It needs and consumes lot more memory for the OS to just breathe easy. It also demands that the end-user to be “conscious” about performance issues and know to clear memory, junk accumulation, killing of apps et al., just like Windows. [ iOS handles memory and manages Apps, way better ]
Problem with the Tablet’ Spec – On the above point, tablet of any kind has to have “at least” 2GB of RAM for it to start to run smooth. And for my above demand, I find that more the memory is better, more so when I’d be multitasking.
Problem of too many – While there are many options in India ( thanks much ! ), and on the above point of Android Tablets having 2GB of RAM or more – there is too much of fragmentation and abandoning from the manufacturers. Android manufacturer do not make the latest or even the prior OS version available to recent Tablets. I say “recent” for many reasons as detailed below.
Manufacturer’s Ripoff – Most if not all of them pick a version of Android, customize and test it out and make it available for the Tablet they’d be promoting. And they sell this customized OS in their Tablets’ of various dimensions. By the time it’s widely available, newer versions of Android becomes available. However, manufacturers, who are caught up in the spec-race, decide to abandon to customize the latest/recent version of the OS to those recent/old Tablets. This is a widely used business-tactic ( they think! ) to make users buy the very latest.
Suicidal Business Model – This model doesn’t cut anything – neither for the manufacturer, not the end-user or the potential buyer.
First, while each Android Tablet maker has 10’s and 20’s of models, I find that except for 1 or 2 of their top-end moels ( of those 10 or even 20 others ) are in the recent
( not even latest ) OS version. Rest are at least couple of Android-versions behind ! Needless to say, old versions of Android aren’t optimized for performance and carries no value.
Second, lot of Tablet options are not really options, as most of them have meager spec., which can barely run the OS, leave along other apps. So, as a new buyer, you are pushed with a very narrow list of options ( of couple ), top end models.
On this, I also have to say, the world of Android is dominated by Samsung, even more in the Tablet world. Even giants such as Lenovo, Huawei, Asus, LG, Acer ( and many more ) don’t have any compelling offering ! Even if they do have a Tablet ( and a strategy ), it’s at least 2-3 OS versions behind and lacks any comparitive feature with the leader in that space ! [ Reference : Forums are filled with complaints of abandonment among ohter issues. ]
Third, here is the most interesting situation in the Android world. Top end models – which claims to support latest or recent version of Android are more expensive than iPad !
iPad wins over on other dimensions too – Spec, Portability, Features, User-Experience and of course Apps-EcoSystem. Apple is very prompt to make available latest OS version to older iPads.
Requiem – Tablets in general ( both between iOS and Android ) have a longer lifespan compared to Smartphones. So, when I know, I am going to be holding onto a Android Tablet, which will not get latest and greatest software and features of Android, as and when they are released and more expensive than iPad – what’s the point in buying a more expensive dud ?!
iPad still rules and I sincerely hope they are able to put lot more focus and bring in innovative ideas to grow this offering.