S Mobility* (erstwhile Spice Mobility) launched a 3G enabled Android Tablet, MiTab, in the Indian market. The 7 inches tablet is powered by an 800 MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Turbo Processor, and features front and back camera, the ability to make voice calls and all the usual services that come with the Android 2.2 operating system including a web browser that supports Adobe Flash player , the ability to act as a personal Wi-Fi Hotspot and access to Android apps through AndroidMarket and other sources. It also comes pre-installed with a viewer for Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF files. The tablet is priced at Rs 12,990, almost the same price point at which R-Com launched its 3G tablet, a few weeks back.
– Flooding the market with cheap Tablets: We’re not sure if this one’s also a rebranded device made by some Chinese OEM, but of recent, the market is getting flooded with companies like Beetel, iBall and many others launching tablets below the Rs 15,000 price point. The first question that hits us: Is there really a big demand for Android tablets?
– Differentiation: Even if we suppose that there is a demand, how are tablet sellers differentiating their offerings? Android, although highly fragmented in terms of Operating System variants, offers almost the same interface across devices barring customized launchers and secondary interface elements, that some device makers put in. Alright, Operators like Reliance can bundle cheap data plans, MapmyIndia can bundle its navigation app, but what about others?
– No Honeycomb devices; No tablet apps: All the low cost tablets run on Android 2.2 Froyo or 2.3 Gingerbread, which is Google’s Mobile OS for Smartphones. This is primarily because Google did not make Honeycomb, the tablet optimized version of Android open-source, and restricted it to a few licensees. And we feel that apps are the catalyst when it comes to driving adoption for new devices. While Honeycomb suffered with less apps, the other tablets were no better than large 7inch smart-phones running apps meant for smartphones. Why would an Android phone user care to buy a tablet, when he gets the same apps? This is certainly not the case with Apple’s iPad, which has a vibrant tablet app eco system, compared to Android.
– Netbooks Vs Tablets: With Windows and Linux powered Netbooks being available at the same price point, Indian users want more bang for their buck. Netbooks offer a more ‘complete’ computing experience, with keyboards, desktop operating systems and support for common hardware peripherals. So, its more likely that they would choose these against tablets, which are still a sort of compromise.
– Content? : We don’t think that a large section of the population purchases devices for content consumption, in India. They also don’t want to buy the ‘tablets are a superior content consumption device’ argument, specially when Android phones are touching the sub-Rs 5,000 price point. Also, how much of local content is available for tablet consumption? We still pay in US Dollars for magazine subscriptions on the iPad. Apple’s iBooks store does not allow Indian accounts to buy books, neither does its iTunes Music store allow them access to music and videos. Till the time we don’t get content, how can we expect device sales to rise?
*Disclosure: Spice Digital is an advertiser with MediaNama.
– MapmyIndia Launches Android Tablet With Built-In Navigation
– Our Take On RCOM’s 3G Tablet
– Samsung’s Content Plans For Next Gen Tabs In India: Indic Books, Apalya’s Mobile TV, Music, Movies