Maybe Steve Jobs is right about Android tablets

By now you've no doubt heard about Steve Jobs' attack on Android (and other competitors) during an earnings call on Monday. In case you missed it, MacWorld has a full transcript online. Jobs was really on a roll and made a few blunders, like when he specified TweetDeck as an example in one of his criticisms:

Twitter client [TweetDeck] recently launched their app for Android. They reported that they had to contend with more than a hundred different versions of Android software on 244 different handsets. The multiple hardware and software iterations present developers with a daunting challenge.

TweetDeck CEO Iain Dodsworth's response to that? A couple of Tweets (of course): Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn't. It wasn't. [Source] and We only have 2 guys developing on Android TweetDeck so that shows how small an issue fragmentation is [Source]

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And yet I'm not sure Jobs was completely wrong in all his criticisms. For instance I'm not convinced he was wrong when talking about screen size. On the topic of 7" screens he said This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps, in our opinion. and, beyond using a tablet for an e-reader, I think I might agree with him (even if he doesn't agree with himself; I still wouldn't be surprised to see a 7" iPad show up soon). I'd have to use a 7" tablet for a while in order to be sure, but for instance my Kindle's 6" screen feels tiny after using the iPad for a while. Again, that's fine for reading but for web browsing, apps and watching video the iPad's 10" screen feels 'just right' to me. I don't think I want anything much smaller or larger. 7" doesn't seem much more portable than 10"; it isn't going to fit into a shirt pocket or clip onto your belt. The only advantage I can see is weight. That's just my own 'gut reaction' at this point. I won't know for sure until I get some solid hands-on time with a 7" tablet. But another place Jobs really hit home (I thought) was when he said:

Second, I’d like to comment on the “avalanche” of tablets poised to enter the market in the coming months. First, it appears to be just a handful of credible entrants, not exactly an avalanche.

I myself have been talking about the avalanche of incoming Android tablets for the better part of a year now, and with every month that passes with no major products hitting retail, my ears turn a brighter shade of embarrassed red. What happened to all the Android tablets, anyway? They always seem to be coming next month or the month after, but "next month" never seems to arrive. Yesterday Digitimes posted an article claiming that "engineer's samples" of Android 3 (aka Gingerbread) tablets were set to "show up" in December, with tablets from Acer, Asustek Computer and Micro-Star International all launching in January at CES 2011. I just don't know what to think at this point, but I'm raising a skeptical eyebrow at this claim. Sometimes I wonder if we'll ever have a broad selection of Android tablets to choose from. Sure, we know the Samsung Galaxy Tab launch is imminent (November 11th, $600, to be exact), and we still hear about the Notion Ink Adam fairly regularly, but what about all those devices we saw at last year's CES? What happened to the ICD Ultra? What happened to MSI's Tegra2 powered Android tablet? What about the tablets from ViewSonic, Hannspree and Toshiba we've been hearing about? All these companies seem to have gone silent on the subject of tablets, at least for now. Archos seems to be the only company able to get products on store shelves and their devices tend more towards PMPs than tablets. Maybe it's time to corral our enthusiasm until we start to see firm ship dates for these devices. And maybe this is all for the best. After all Google themselves said that "Froyo" wasn't the best choice for tablets. Maybe manufacturers took that to heart and decided to wait to release their hardware with Gingerbread. Better a late tablet than a disappointing one, right? Still, as an Android enthusiast it's hard not to get discouraged. I still want a 10" Android tablet that relegates my iPad to the "old tech" cabinet once and for all. I'm just no longer counting on having one in my hands any time soon, unfortunately.

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