How not to launch an Android tablet: the T-Mobile G-Slate arrives
Here we go again with crazy Android tablet pricing. The 4G T-Mobile G-Slate launches today. This is basically a branded version of the LG Optimus Pad. There are a couple of features that differentiate the G-Slate from the other Android tablets we've been talking about. First, the G-Slate offers passive glasses-based 3D and has dual cameras that allow capturing photos and video in 3D. Honestly this sounds like a gimmick. I was expecting a glasses-free 3D experience with this thing and now I have to wear clunky red/blue glasses?
Second is the screen size. This is the first 8.9" device (that I'm aware of) to hit the market. Engadget posted its review of the G-Slate yesterday and said that they didn't miss that inch of screen size (when compared to the Xoom or the other 10" Android devices) but that the higher pixel density gave the screen "a sharper, crisper look." Combined with a plastic back it also meant the G-Slate is lighter than the Xoom, at 1.3 lbs.
So the tablet itself seems pretty solid. Same Tegra chip we see in so many other tablets, 32GB of storage, a nice screen, and of course it's a 4G device. That's the good news. The bad news? The price. $750 off contract. With a contract it's $630 though there's a $100 rebate offer at launch. (No WiFi only version is being offered at this time.)
Yes, these prices compare favorably with those of Apple's iPad 2. It doesn't matter. These unknown Android devices just aren't going to sell in big numbers as long as they're priced comparably to the iPad.
In a month or so you'll see pundits pointing to low sales of the G-Slate as more evidence that Android tablets don't sell. And the pundits will be correct, as long as companies keep asking premium prices for first generation products when there's a second generation competitor with a huge amount of support behind it offered at the same price.