Google/Verizon Tablet: A Quick Wish List

By  |  Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Google and Verizon Wireless are working on an tablet together. That bit of scuttlebutt comes from a pretty well-connected source: Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam, who spilled the beans to the Wall Street Journal today. The device will run the Android OS, and that’s about all we know about it so far–but Verizon says it’ll have more details later this week. (And maybe Google will have something to say at its I|O conference next week.)

This gizmo will, of course, compete with Apple’s iPad. It joins the land rush of  would-be iPad killers that don’t actually exist yet (and, in some cases, may never exist). I’d like to see something emerge as the iPad’s most formidable archival–and here are a few features that would help Google and Verizon’s tablet get there.

A decent interface. For all the snarking about the iPad being nothing more than a giant iPod Touch, Apple gave it something no previous tablet has had: a user interface that makes sense, with excellent features like the hybrid menu/window/dialog boxes known as Popovers. Google should rethink Android at least as much before it puts it on an iPad-like device.

Apps! Google’s Chrome OS netbook platform–which feels like a relic of an earlier era even though the first products based on it aren’t supposed to show up until later this year–is based around the philosophy that the only app a computer needs is the World Wide Web. The Google/Verizon tablet isn’t going to go that direction. And I’m curious to see what the companies do to answer the already-thriving iPad app economy. (Will the tablet run apps designed for Android phones?)

Googleishness! One of the best things about Android phones are their nifty integration with Google services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Picasa, and Google Voice. I’d like to see the tablet go even further–starting with full-blown support for Google Apps, complete with editing.

Flash! Actually, until Adobe releases a FlashPlayer for mobile devices that works, it’s unclear whether it would give the Google/Verizon tablet an edge of any sort over the iPad. Given the recent coziness between Google and Adobe, I expect that Flash will land on this tablet, though–and I’d like to see it, if only as a reality check on whether the iPad’s lack of Flash is an upside or a downside.

Entertainment. On phones, Android’s entertainment infrastructure is pretty spartan–you get access to the music store, YouTube, audio and video players, and not much else. The tablet doesn’t need to replicate the iTunes ecosystem, but it does need more than that. Howsabout a Hulu app, for instance?

Books, magazines, and newspapers. Google is launching an e-book store this summer. Happy coincidence! I’d also like to see Amazon and Barnes & Noble build apps. As well as TIME, USA Today, the New York Times, and other media heavyweights who have released interesting iPad incarnations of their publications.

A bit less heft. At 1.5 pounds, my iPad is on the heavy side to hold like a book for extended periods–and the 3G version is a tenth of an ounce heavier. It weighs as much as it does in part because it has a sizable battery that provides truly excellent battery life. But I’m looking forward to future tablets that aren’t so heavyset.

Cheap data. AT&T has set the bar high with its $30, contract-free unlimited 3G for the iPad. Maybe Verizon can match that–but also offer some sort of price break for those of us who already pay it a monthly fee for wireless data on a phone, a laptop, or both.

A camera. Pretty obvious, right?

An attractive price. Let’s say $399, contract-free, or $199 with some sort of commitment.

Any other requests?


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Bob Stepno Says:

    PixelQi transflective screen?

    (It’s not just that I like saying “transflective,” I actually did get my OLPC XO and thought the indoor/outdoor screen would be great for e-books at the beach.)

  2. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    The best thing they could do is a Chrome tablet, with no native apps. They simply don’t have the software for anything else. Not even close. Chrome is by far their best software. A simple tablet with a really kick ass Web browser in it running really server-enabled apps at least has integrity and could fit the bill for some users. The way you login to Chrome and whatever system you’re on turns into your system is a feature Apple won’t match for a while. So Chrome tablets could be interchangeable.

    Porting Chrome to ARM is not necessarily easy, though. Chrome is specifically optimized for Intel CPU’s. Chrome’s trick is turning JavaScript into Intel x86 bytecode. Not ARM bytecode. It’s not architecturally agnostic like Apple’s software.

    Android is already on ARM, but Android is too small. Scaling up Android sounds easy when you see how well iPhone OS is doing on iPad. But the bottom 3/4 of iPhone OS is the same exact OS X software as the bottom 3/4 of Mac OS. iPad is not a phone scaled up, it’s still a Mac scaled down. The trick was scaling OS X down to a phone in the first place, not scaling a phone system up to an iPad. We’ve already seen Android tablets, dozens of them were at the most-recent CES, before iPad was even introduced. None impressed. Java apps are too small for today’s smartphones, never mind for tablets.

    As far as the Google hardware being cheaper, iPad 16GB is $499 and Nexus One 4GB is $529. iPad has about 4 times the display and 4 times the battery and a ton more software and it’s cheaper. How do you scale up a Nexus One to an iPad and sell it for 25% less?

    So they have to go less is more. Dumb tablets that you can pass around and people login and get a whole server-based Google desktop is like a right angle to iPad, it has its own separate reason for being. They can’t compete head to head with iPad. Maybe in a few years if they stop treating this as a hobby. But definitely not now. Even Microsoft is years away from competing with iPad, and they have a ton more software.

  3. IcyFog Says:

    iTunes, that’s what I would want before I consider a non-Apple tablet.
    Recently I’ve read in the anti-Apple and Apple communities negative comments about iTunes – that it’s bloated, crashes a lot, etc. However in my opinion iTunes works great, and I’d want a way to have my music collection on a non-Apple tablet. Or at least I’d want some program that works as well as iTunes does.

  4. Mike Cerm Says:

    Sorry, but $399 is not an attractive price. Anyone who’s considering a $399 tablet will probably just end up buying a $499 iPad. Everyone else will just buy a $299 netbook, which does more anyway.

    Archos makes sub-$300 tablets that run Android, so I’d say that $299 should be the target. Unlike Archos, Google can afford to flood the market with thin-margin products, because it doesn’t need to make a profit. Even at that price, it still needs to answer the question: What can this do that my smartphone and/or netbook can’t?

  5. Nick V Says:

    Although you covered the bases fairly well – I’d want to see the following:
    – Dual Webcam (front/back)
    – Ports (USB, HDMI, SD/SSD) for expandability and connectivity
    – Multitasking PLEASE!!!!!
    – Multiple User Profile and lockout

    Alongwith native support for Google Apps I could actually see replacing a netbook/notebook with this….

  6. sfmitch Says:

    To Harry and Nick and others

    Please explain why you want a camera on a tablet?

    Video Chat? How much video chat do you do?

    It’s an obvious thing to ask for (if the choice is camera or no camera, why not choose camera) but what is it good for?

    A camera on a phone is a necessity, but I am having trouble wrapping my head around the outcry for camera on a tablet.

  7. David Schneider Says:

    Apps are the key to success and Apple has a jump on everyone. Our take at Tablet Wars:

  8. Tom Ross Says:

    “Google can afford to flood the market with thin-margin products, because it doesn’t need to make a profit.”

  9. bims Says:

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