Books written by Ray Sullivan

Monday, 29 October 2012

Google Squaring Up to Apple

The winds are howling, the storm is brewing and America is bracing as Hurricane Sandy starts to whip the Eastern coastline.  It would be churlish to trivialise the events on the coast and parallel in line with it, with families battening down the hatches, boarding up the windows and being urged by the President to listen to the emergency planners and leave for the hills if in the track of the storm.  It has affected the NY stock exchange, interrupted thousands of internal and International flights, ships are securely berthed rather than venturing out to sea and Google had to cancel their announcement.

It's been a big week for announcements.  Apple, of course, have launched the iPad mini to favourable reviews.  Amazon snuck in the launch of the Kindle Fire HD over here in the UK and that seems to be picking up rather well and Google had a couple of exciting things to shout about.  The weather, not for the first time, stopped play though.  So Google decided to host the party online instead.  I'm sure they were ready to walk on a stage holding devices up like trophies, but to be honest that's getting a bit same-looking.

Anyway, Google are announcing a whole, consistent family of Nexus devices - you know, a 4" phone, a 7" tablet and a 10" tablet.  Until a couple of days ago that would have seemed a pretty unique offering, so it's no wonder that Apple had a pop or two at Google at the iPad mini launch.  It's what people do when they're worried.

The trio are designed to complement each other in style and function.  The Nexus 4 is the phone element, featuring a quad core processor and the latest Android OS.  Screen size is 4.7" so it's very nearly the Nexus 5 and I reckon that will be next year's offering.  It's packed full of new Google features including the new Photo Sphere software that takes photos all around you and also above and below before stitching them together into one mega photo.

The Nexus 7 is improved, as suggested a couple of blog entries ago, by having the 8 Gb version dropped, with the 16Gb version slipping into base position and taking up the old 8Gb price point, with it being replaced by a 32Gb Nexus coming in at the same price as the 16 Gb used to be sold at.

The 10" tablet is designed to provide cinematic standard viewing and features a micro HDMI port for exporting to your TV when needed.  This tablet is designed to be shared and to that end Google have embedded the ability to host multiple accounts on the machine so that all family members can have their own Nexus space to view emails and store apps on.  This is on top of the very useful functionality of the Nexus 7 that lets you host multiple email accounts to be viewed separately or together as you wish.

I think that Google have realised what Apple have been moving towards for a while now.  We all have our own personal phones and increasingly this is a smart variety.  They've also realised that Steve Jobs knew a thing or two and when he resisted 7" tablets he did so because the larger screen real estate is so useful for many tasks.  However they've also realised the usefulness of a more portable device, hence their Nexus 7 launched earlier this year.  The future is 7" tablets used as the go anywhere devices backed up by the more domestic variety in 10".

They are also pushing personal usage further, interestingly in the field of music.  There's no doubt that Apple have played a long and clever game with iTunes and to tackle them head on is almost certainly going to fail.  Google are tackling it obliquely instead.  Not only can users purchase music from Google Play, they can also upload up to 20,000 of their existing songs to their Google cloud space for free.  In fact, if you try to upload songs that are already in their catalogue you won't even need to spend time transferring the file to the cloud - Google will do that for you from their copy.  Now, given the squabble going on between Bruce Willis and Apple, this is an interesting twist.

Will Google stand a chance against Apple?  Don't know, but I really hope so.  I don't have anything against Apple, in fact I really like their style, but I'd like to see some real competition coming their way.  This family might just provide it.


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