Android Tablets: Unstoppable in 2013?

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Everybody knows when a meteor hits there's a nuclear explosion, and everybody knows when there's a nuclear explosion zombies come out.

Likewise, everybody knows that the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad is the only tablet computer that matters.

Oh, you know I'm kidding. As it turns out, meteor strikes actually don't release hordes of the undead, and Apple has serious competition in the tablet space nowadays. Bet I had you going for a second, though.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) has finally cracked the code on how to sell Android-powered tablets. To nobody's surprise, pricing is the secret sauce. (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) struck the first blow with last year's spectacular Kindle Fire success, pairing a capable 7-inch tablet with a price point below $200. In 2012, Google took the next step by marrying the same comfortable price to a certifiable top-of-the-line piece of hardware.

The Nexus 7 is by all accounts a fantastic piece of kit. Some reviews call it the best $200 tablet. Others even compare it favorably against Apple's premium-priced iPads. Hardware builder Asustek will ship 6.3 million Android tablets this year, almost exclusively in the form of Nexus 7. And that's just the beginning.

Asus CFO David Chang tells The Wall Street Journal that he expects Android tablet sales to double in 2013. Before you accuse Chang of cheering for his own company, note that he also offered a much gloomier forecast for Asus' Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows notebooks and tablets. 

That's a strong statement on consumer demand for tablets not named iPad. Asus obviously stands to gain if Chang's scenario plays out as expected, but the larger story here is Google's inexorable rise to the top.

The Nexus 7 is a loss leader for Google because it's sold at cost, far from the cash cow the iPad is for Apple. But that OK because Big G is showing its many hardware partners how to sell an Android tablet right now.

Google is a master at making money from free services. It's all about driving traffic to Google Search and to the AdSense marketing network, where every new eyeball is a potential cash-creating clicker. Doesn't matter if consumers are getting there on Google's own hardware, on other Android tablets, or even via Apple's gadgets -- Google just wants more people to use the Internet, and more often. So anything that puts more tablets in the hands of users is a win for Google.

The seed to raucous Android tablet sales in 2013 has been planted, and now it's up to Asus, Samsung, or Google's own Motorola division to keep the train rolling. It's kind of like unleashing the first zombie on on unsuspecting world, only to cash in on the unstoppable undead hordes next year.

There's no doubt that Apple is near the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded, with more than 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (6)

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  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 1:16 AM, toddhartman1a wrote:

    Here's a new 10-inch Android tablet released last week that truly impresses -- The Novo 10 Hero by Ainol Electronics and priced at only $225 - Easily the best "price-performance" 10" tablet available, and features a High Resolution 1280x800 IPS

    screen, 16GB Memory, a strong Dual Core processor with Quad Core GPU, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Operating System, Wifi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and an option for 3G/4G connection. If you're not familar with the manufacturer, Ainol Electronics, they received a "Best Tablet of the Year" award at CNET Consumer Electronics Show 2012 and have hit the ball out of the park with this new model. The Novo 10 Hero also offers a MicroUSB port for connection to printers and other electronic devices, a MicroSD Memory Card slot for unlimited storage (up to 32GB Memory Cards), includes both front and back cameras with a

    2 Megapixel back camera; and includes HDMI output, which is a nice feature to download movies and watch in Full 1080p (HD) on to a large screen TV. It also makes a great gaming device with its high resolution screen, motion sensor, and a processor strong enough to handle 3D games.

    One of the first resellers to offer the new Novo 10 Hero is a site called TabletSprint --which also

    includes $25 in Bonus Apps and hardware accessories. TabletSprint also features a free monthly 3G/4G data plan for the Novo 10 Hero, with no charge for 500MB Data every month...

    with 3G/4G Connection with full internet access and VoIP voice calling over a nationwide network. A free 4G USB adapter is also included and the Carrier only requires a small refundable deposit on the adapter. TabletSprint certainly makes this a

    great deal and the Novo 10 Hero is worth comparing to other 10" tablets available this holiday season.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2012, at 7:38 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    But how long can Amazon continue to sell tablets at a loss? They do not make enough money on content from most users to cover the cost.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2012, at 4:49 PM, FoolinSD wrote:

    I wouldn't call the capable. 256mb ram dropped it off my wishlist before it even went on sale. remember the ram is shared between the cpu & the gpu.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2012, at 10:45 AM, TheTechGuy wrote:

    Another cool tablet is the Hupla Edge. It's an

    Android 4.01 Operating System, 1.5GHz dual core processor that is screaming fast. It has a built-in 1.3Mpixel camera for video chat, 1 USB OTG port, 1 HDMI port, 1 MicroSD slot to add up to 32GB memory. The battery life is 6-7 hours depending on which application I am using. It costs just $150 and looks great.

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