Android tablets are a dime a dozen, but very few of them run the most recent and by far the best version of the Android operating system, the 4.1.1 version called "Jelly Bean." Starting this November, this will change -- dramatically. The current main 4.1.1 Google tablet offering made by Asus has a small 7-inch screen and no cellular/LTE connectivity.
By November of this year, we should see eight-, nine-, 10- and 11-inch Android tablets running Android 4.1.1 (or higher) and offering cellular/LTE connectivity from a long list of hardware makers. Most likely, they will be offered from most of the following: Samsung,
, Sony, Asus, Acer, Lenovo,
, which is of course now a division of Google's. Perhaps even others.
Google's value proposition will be that these Android tablets will be offering a more PC-like flexible operating system experience than Apple, on hardware that will be equal to -- or in some cases better than -- Apple, but at prices that almost approach the value offered by Amazon's Kindle tablets. The sheer diversity of form factors offered by these Android tablets will dwarf the offerings from Apple, Microsoft and Apple.
The fragmentation among the Android smartphone experiences has become a running joke in the industry, and even society at large. The interface looks different if you're buying a Samsung, HTC, Sony,
and so forth.
Even worse, the software support for any Android model that hits the market can best be described in one word: orphan. Upgrades are rarely seen, if ever, and if they do show up, they tend to be six to 12 months too late, which is an eternity in the computing world.
In other words, Android fragmentation has become a total catastrophe for Google's ability to compete with Apple and Microsoft in the long term, despite that measured strictly in terms of units shipped -- 500 million or so -- Google is already in the lead. In order for this lead not to collapse in 2013, Google has to change course and right these wrongs.
Come this November, I think we will see the first evidence that Google is fixing the Android problem. The story here is in many ways similar to Google's tablet story.
Whereas in the past most of Google's smartphones were launched running one- to two-year old versions of the Android operating system, this November we should see a more uniform launch of Android 4.1.1 (or newer) smartphones from a long list of hardware makers: Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG, Huawei and Motorola (owned by Google itself), just to mention the more prominent ones.