David is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
June was the month for big mobile announcements. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced iOS 6 along with a host of smaller announcements at their Worldwide Developer Conference. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) had two big announcements the first was Windows Phone 8, the next iteration Windows Phone and the second came in the form of their Surface tablets. The Surface tablets are a set to two tablets, one of which will run Windows RT, the tablet version of Windows 8, and the other one will run Windows 8. They are designed and sold directly by Microsoft, the first will launch alongside Windows 8 while the latter will launch three months after that. Then Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) held their developer conference Google I/O where they announced a new version of their Android operating system, Jelly Bean. Google also made several other announcements including the Nexus Q social streaming device and the Nexus 7 tablet.
The Nexus 7 is a big step for Google, it is there first tablet. There have been a plethora of Android tablets other the past two years; most of them have been pretty bad and consistently trumped by Apple’s iPad. Google however has never had their own tablet as a reference device for other Android partners. Google has done this with phones, they had the Nexus S, the Galaxy Nexus and the G1 before those two. These reference devices are designed and supported by Google but manufactured by another company, like Samsung. They are designed to show Android manufacturers what a stock Android device should look like and is capable of. These devices also give developers a piece of hardware to optimize their applications for. This allows app makers to conduct real world testing on a phone that has not had any third party customization.
Google did use the Motorola Xoom tablet as there reference for a time but now with the Nexus 7 Google has a true tablet they can call their own. The Nexus 7 is packing a quad core processor built off of Nvidia’s project Kai. Kai is a standard that Nvidia built as blueprint for making a high quality low priced Nvidia based tablets. A low price is definitely one of the selling points of the Nexus 7, the 8GB model is just $199 and the 16GB model is $249. This is well below the price of Apple’s iPad, most other Android tablets and the forthcoming Microsoft Surface tablets.
However the launch of the Nexus 7 has not been a smooth one. Initially announced on June 27th the Nexus 7 was supposed to ship to pre-orders in a few weeks, sometime in mid-july. However the Nexus 7 is sold out in most stores and Google temporarily stopped taking orders for the 16GB model on their site because of ‘incredible demand’. Initial shortages are not uncommon for a new highly sought after tech device especially with a company like Google that is not used to releasing hardware products. However Asus is the actual manufacturer for the Nexus 7 and one would hope that they know the industry well enough to estimate demand. Google has upgraded some pre-orders to next day shipping to compensate for the delays however Google is facing a potentially worse issue than temporary shipping delays.
Almost from day one there have been reports of issues with the Nexus 7’s screen. Reports include loose screens, image ghosting, phantom typing and light bleed. On top of these purported hardware issues other people are reporting that Google’s service has not been as good as they could be. This has been a long standing issue with the Android ecosystem. Google does not usually offer direct customer support for Android devices, and sometimes you can get bounced endlessly back and forth between your carrier and manufacturer.
Apple is renowned for their customer support, they have excellent phone support and even better support through the Genius bar at the Apple stores. Additionally Apple now gives a form of accident protection for their iPads with their new Applecare + warranty. Microsoft has also had a lot of experience with customer support, not only through their numerous software offerings but also with the few hardware offerings they have. One of the largest examples of this was with their Xbox red ring of death issue. This issue resulted in a billion dollar customer service program from Microsoft. With rumors of Amazon getting further into the tablet market and potentially a Kindle Fire smartphone their excellent customer support will no doubt be part of the package.
Google needs to get their support system down. Whether they just support the Nexus devices as they have been or they branch out and support all Android devices they need to step it up. The shipping issues and screen problems are both temporary and can be handled by Asus. Android, especially with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is refined enough to continue leading the market and competing with Windows Phone and iOS, however fragmentation within Android leaves customer service and support lacking.
ded004 has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.