Google Glass caught the eye on the hardware side at Google I/O 2012, but Google had a much more modest second piece of hardware at the event in the Nexus 7 tablet. , unlike Glass, was never controversial.
But despite its banality, when you look at the Nexus 7, its impact is undeniable. It tapped into an explosion of interest in tablets, had the right price, and was built by one of the most innovative tablet manufacturers of the time. Ten years later, it stands alongside the original iPad as one of the most important tablets on the market.
This is the second in a pair of retrospectives released ahead of Google I/O 2022, the first focusing on Google Glass’ 10th anniversary.
The tablets were exciting
Tablets were exciting in 2012. The The third generation 9.7 inch Apple iPad was out and most of the other manufacturers were clamoring to lure people away from it. Microsoft had Windows RT software on the Surface, and Amazon was pushing ahead with its cheap and cheerful Kindle Fire lineup, but outside of those two big names, the choice of Android tablets was wide and interesting.
BlackBerry’s PlayBook was still relatively new, HTC was still a player in the world of mobile technology and had launched its 7-inch Flyer tablet, Samsung was expanding its line of tablets beyond the first 7-inch Galaxy Tab, and Motorola was still in the game. with his Xoom tablet. LeapFrog was targeting kids with the LeapPad Explorer, and Barnes & Noble was taking on Amazon with the Nook.
However, looking back, there were two companies that greatly influenced the tablet space at this time, albeit for very different reasons. Indirectly, they both helped propel the Nexus 7 to success. Asus was at the top of its tablet game with unusual products like the Eee Pad 2-in-1 Android Transformer and various spin-offs, as well as the PadFone dual-use phone/tablet hybrid range, making it one of the more creative and innovative. tablet manufacturers at the time.
Google teamed up with Asus to build the Nexus 7, and it couldn’t have picked a better partner. But there was another company making headlines, but for less auspicious reasons. Hewlett-Packard discontinued the unloved HP TouchPad in 2011, and it sold remaining stock for as little as $100. The response was huge, and for a short time this essentially dead product was pretty much the hottest tech you could get if you could find one. Suddenly, those priced out of the $500 iPad market could find a tablet from a well-known and established brand for little money.
Nexus 7 did not disappoint
As the public realized there was a reason no one was buying the HP TouchPad at full price, Asus and Google came together to announce the $200, 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet at Google I/O 2012. It had exactly the right credentials to grab the attention of those who want to try one of these great new tablets, but don’t want to pay big bucks for one.
The $200 price tag didn’t mean it had disappointing specs, another sensible move on Google’s part. Compared to Amazon’s similarly priced 7-inch Kindle Fire at the time, it had better quality, a higher resolution screen, more internal storage, a selfie camera, stereo speakers, Bluetooth, GPS, and the Nvidia’s mobile processor at the time, the Tegra 3. The Kindle Fire was a small, inexpensive tablet, while the Nexus 7 was a small, cheap, and desirable Tablet.
It also came at the right time for Google. The Play Store was growing rapidly, and during the I/O 2012 keynote, the company added movies, TV shows, books, and magazines to it. The Nexus 7 was the perfect delivery point for Google’s multimedia efforts, and the low price allowed it to instantly take over its main competitor, Amazon and the Kindle Fire. Google was really banking on Nexus 7 owners stocking up on things to read and watch, because it would have sold the Nexus 7 at cost.
Everybody wanted one
In geek circles, Google I/O had a reputation as a must-attend event for several reasons, one of them being the freebies Google gave to its participating developers, and the I/O 2012 package included the Galaxy Nexus phone, Nexus Q streaming device, and Nexus 7 tablet. Those of us watching from afar watched with envious eyes, and that anticipation translated into massive demand when the tablet finally hit stores. .
Unsurprisingly, the inexpensive, high-end Nexus 7 was a huge hit. For the first few months after release, Google couldn’t keep up with demand and most retailers sold out their allowances very quickly, with the $250 16GB version being particularly elusive at the time. Although no official figures were ever released, Asus said it sold one million Nexus 7 tablets every month between July and October 2012. By the end of the year, Google and Asus would have captured 8% of the tablet market with the Nexus 7.
The Nexus 7 did what Google wanted and introduced more people to the delights of the Play Store, but it also did another important job: it raised awareness of the Nexus line of hardware. Prior to its arrival, the Nexus range was all about smartphones, with the original Nexus One, Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus released before it to modest attention.
The Nexus 7 paved the way for the Nexus 4 and, in 2014, the hugely popular Nexus 5 phone, arguably the second-biggest game-changing Nexus product. Without the Nexus 7 associating the Nexus name with solid specs, good build quality and a low price, the Nexus 5 might not have garnered as much adoration as quickly as it did.
In the right place at the right time
Picking up the Nexus 7 today, it’s surprising how good the little tablet looks and feels. The instantly recognizable dimpled back is sleek and offers a natural grip, while the size is ideal for holding with one hand. Although it’s thicker than most modern tablets, it’s not unmanageable, and the weight – similar to most large iPad tablets today – gives it an air of quality and sturdiness.
It seems there is room for a successor to the Nexus 7.
The screen, now in low resolution, is pleasant to look at and Android 5.1.1 is nostalgic to use. It’s only really let down by its performance, as the Nvidia Tegra 3 inside that original first-gen Nexus 7 feels every moment of its 10-year-old age. Give it modern power and a software update, and the Nexus 7 would be perfectly usable today.
The Nexus 7 was the epitome of a product in the right place, at the right time, able to exploit the huge interest in tablets by striking the right balance between price and specifications while capitalizing on the buzz around Google. and a sense that he was “on the people’s side” over elitist Apple and its expensive products. Many will fondly remember the Nexus 7 and remember it as an unassuming device that offered excellent value for money.
Google discontinued the Nexus 7 in 2015, replacing it with the larger Nexus 9 and eventually grew bored with dedicated Android tablets, preferring to explore 2-in-1 portable hybrids like the PixelBook Go. If you want a 7-inch tablet today, much like the end of 2012, you’re probably going to end up with a $500 Apple iPad Mini or a $50 Kindle Fire 7. to the Nexus 7. Anyone interested in a Google Pixel 7 tablet?