What the Heck Is Wrong With Android Tablets?

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With all the talk of Hulu fetching a hefty premium from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) or Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) in a potential buyout bid, you'd think Hulu would be at least on par or even ahead of its rivals in fulfilling demand for streaming apps on Android tablets. You'd be wrong. Hulu is targeting Android smartphones first.

"With the first phase of the Android rollout, Hulu Plus is available on six phones, including the Nexus One, Nexus S, HTC Inspire 4G, Motorola Droid II, Motorola Droid X, and the Motorola Atrix. We expect to add to the number of Android smartphones and will be making additional device announcements throughout the year," wrote Rob Wong, Hulu's director of product management, in a blog post yesterday. [Emphasis added.]

Excuse me: Smartphones? Why target phones when we know video streaming is one of the top three reasons consumers purchase tablets? Either Hulu management is too clueless to understand that consumers want tablets for streaming, or Google has made it too difficult to develop apps for the tablet-ready Honeycomb operating system.

After all, Hulu isn't the only streaming provider playing "keepaway" with Android tablets. Neither Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 nor Motorola Mobility's (NYSE: MMI  ) Xoom can stream Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) content.

To be fair, Android's many faces cause development problems. Coders compensate by supporting Android one device at a time, a pitifully slow process. (Again, witness Netflix.)

Still, Google first talked up Honeycomb in January, during the Consumer Electronics Show. Hulu's had plenty of time to work with the tablet version of the Android OS since then. I'll grant that there may be licensing issues still to deal with, but do any of us really believe the Xoom and Galaxy wouldn't have Hulu Plus, had management chosen to focus development on Android tablets first and smartphones second? It's as if these devices have a serious case of cooties, with no cure in sight.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Yahoo! and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Netflix, and Yahoo!, as well as buying puts on Netflix. 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.

Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 10:45 AM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    I wholeheartedly disagree. Everyone has a smartphone nowadays. Relatively few people have an Android tablet. Check out Acer's new forecasts for tablet sales this year: 2.5 million! That's down from a forecast of 7 million on May 10. Weak economies don't allow people to acquire toys, such as tablets. Phones are a neccessity nowadays.

    As for Android tablets being difficult to develop for, my brother is an independent app developer for Android. He recently bought the new Honeycomb tablet ($700!) to get a feel for new releases of his apps. While there is some friction between devices, it will eventually be adopted by developers. Bad developers, aka the ones who make 10 "Fart Buttons" probably won't care if their app works across the board. Good developers will. Its just a matter of time.


  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 10:45 AM, JeanDavid wrote:

    Hilarious! From the title, I inferred it to be about some medical product: tablets of some hormone to supplement a testosterone deficiency or something.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 12:30 PM, yeomandroid wrote:

    I have to admit, just buying an Android tablet I was really disappointed at how poorly executed Google Docs is for mobile devices. C'mon Goog, a tablet is supposed to be a netbook replacement, not just an overglorified iPod Touch. Why am I having to be forced to look at mobile web pages? Why can't I access Google Docs like I would on my PC? This is NO BUENO!

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 4:26 PM, Borbality wrote:

    why focus on apps for a product no one has? tons of people have android phones. Plenty of people have iPads, but I doubt most of us know anyone who has or wants an android tablet.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2011, at 8:11 PM, jcvassil wrote:

    I bought a Motorola xoom to use it for Netflix, Skype and the like. But as of this moment the tablet remains half baked and lacks such basic functionality. The SD card slot is still no-functional, apps are still slow incoming and yet rumors are that Motorola is already planning a second generation xoom.

    I am indeed disappointed for buying the xoom but on the other hand I refuse to buy an ipad and be controlled by Apple. I hope that some of the upcoming new tablet entries will give consumers what they are looking for.

  • Report this Comment On June 25, 2011, at 12:38 PM, fennecfoxen wrote:

    The real problem with Android tablets is that the iPad 2 is so much better. (This is a pity, since I'm interested in purchasing a tablet soon and, all else being equal, would have preferred it to be Android-based.)

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 8:40 AM, TMFBreakerRob wrote:

    @BlacknGold: "Check out Acer's new forecasts for tablet sales this year: 2.5 million! That's down from a forecast of 7 million on May 10. Weak economies don't allow people to acquire toys, such as tablets."

    Someone needs to tell that to the millions of people buying iPads! 2011 sales are predicted to be 40 million worldwide, and over 60 million in 2012. They're struggling to meet demand.,2817,2383969,00.asp

    Android's problem isn't the economy, its not being competitive with Apple.

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2011, at 4:10 PM, laborduck wrote:

    Android tablets suffer from fragmentation with different OEM's using different coding and multiplying the time and works needed to program applications for all OEM's.

    With Apple's IOS, you just need one crack at it...

    Long on AAPL.

  • Report this Comment On June 27, 2011, at 1:37 PM, Melaschasm wrote:

    1. The author makes some good points about the challenges of Android.

    2. We are only a few months into android tablets, and it will likely take a year before they really get going (just like android phones).

    3. If memory serves me correct, the only phones getting Hulu Plus are 4g phones, even though there are some 3g phones running the same software as those mentioned above. I suspect that Hulu Plus performance in optimized by 4g.

    4. Hulu apps are mostly just marketing, since you can already access all of their content on the web. From a programing standpoint it would be easier to launch a site than to create apps for andriod and apple.

    5. Limiting the phones that get hulu allows the service providers and device makers to promote their most expensive phones as hulu ready, and generates free marketing with each new phone getting a press release that it is hulu ready.

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