Can HTC challenge the Nexus 7 in the Android tablet space?
Android tablets are a dime a dozen these days, but it’s fair to say that most consumers never knew that HTC released a pair of tablets long before competition started driving down prices. When the HTC Flyer was released in 2011, it was the very first Android tablet to feature an active stylus which has since been popularized by Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphones. Unfortunately for HTC, sales of the HTC Flyer never really took off. The device made its debut at $499 and customers were asked to pay an additional $80 for the digital stylus. After five month of abysmal sales, the price of the Flyer was reduced to $299, but consumers simply didn’t care.
Today’s tablet market is completely different. While the iPad is still considered to be the market leader, Google’s Nexus 7 was a massive hit in 2012 – quickly becoming one of the best-selling Android tablets on the market. While Samsung’s broad tablet approach focused on delivering a plethora of different sizes and features, the Nexus 7’s approach was to give consumers a reasonably spec’d device at the best possible price – $199. The other advantage that the Nexus 7 had was that it received Android updated directly from Google, giving consumers the opportunity to use the latest software features month before Samsung, Sony, Asus and other tablet makers pushed them out to their devices.
A little more than a year later, Google has now released a new Nexus 7 which delivers improved processing power, a slimmer and sleeker design and one of the world’s best displays. Technically, most of the components crammed inside the 2013 Nexus 7 still quality is as a mid-range device, but that’s because Google wanted to keep the price low. At $229, the new Nexus 7 is slightly more expensive than last year’s model, but it delivery extraordinary value.
So where would an HTC tablet fit in when Google has proven that consumer are interested in value more than a unique experience. The HTC One it the most unique Android phone on the market and is currently considered the best phone of 2013. Technically, the price of the 32GB HTC One sits around $600, but most people are able to purchase the phone for $199 when they sign a new contract. The rumored HTC One Max is expected to feature a 5.9-inch display and would be closer in size to a Nexus 7 than most other Android phones, but the handset’s larger footprint will probably drive the price up, not down.
HTC has always taken pride in being a premium device manufacturer and consumers love HTC’s build quality. Unfortunately, that pride seems to get in the way of offering devices which may have mass market appeal. HTC could build a $199 tablet to compete head-to-head with the new Nexus 7, but it would need to make significant trade-offs. Premium construction materials like aluminum would be tossed internal hardware would be comparable to HTC’s flagship phones from Q4 of 2012. A $199 HTC tablet would be amazing, buy many consumers may still opt for Google’s Nexus offering since a pure Android experience on a tablet is even more enjoyable than it is on a smartphone.
Over the past year, HTC has iterated that they are still interested in the tablet market, but they are looking to produce the right device for consumers. It’s impossible to compete directly with Samsung since they have nearly a dozen different tablets on the market, but HTC may be able to deliver one unique device that can compete with the Nexus 7 on price and showcases the company’s commitment to quality and impeccable design.