Is the Nexus 7 Really A One-off?

Something occurred to me during an e-mail conversation with a member of the media: the Nexus 7 may just be a one-off device, and not a long-term play for Google. In some ways, it could be an attempt by Google to spur developers to build tablet apps (or make their apps more tablet-friendly), much like the first Nexus phones Google made available through their developer program. I’m not sure that the lack of inexpensive tablets is holding back app development, but this could be a possible motivation. Let’s consider the evidence, such as it is.

Super-low Price

The Nexus 7 is very, very cheap. It almost looks like Google is selling them for cost, or close to it. Google is smart enough to know that price sensitivity isn’t a big factor in tablet purchases right now. They had the Kindle Fire as a prime example of a super-cheap tablet that did well during the Christmas rush, and then flamed out once the shopping season was over.

However, low prices do appeal to developers, particularly those who are building their first apps as a sideline while they keep a day job. These developers have had no issue shelling out $400 or more for iPads, but a cheap Android tablet might spur some interest.

It Isn’t Built By Google/Motorola

The Nexus 7 is built by ASUS, and not Google’s new hardware group. That makes it look even more like a bit of a one-off device. If this had come from their own, newly-purchased hardware group, I could believe this is just the first version in a family of devices that will be built for several years. Being built as a bit of white-label device seems to indicate Google isn’t 100% committed to this product.

It Isn’t Locked To A Carrier

It isn’t tied to a carrier because it doesn’t offer any sort of 3G/4G wireless support. That is part of what keeps the cost down, and makes it easier to sell worldwide on day 1. But it also means that the device can keep the price down and still have useful features like a GPS receiver and both Bluetooth and NFC support. Most of my iPads that I use for testing my iOS apps aren’t the 3G variety. I don’t need them to be for the bulk of my testing. Going this route gives Google some flexibility.

Not Exactly “Ah ah!” Evidence, But…

Granted, it isn’t exactly overwhelming evidence, but it sure seems curious. Then again, if they are going after Amazon (more on that in another post), then that takes on a different meaning.