It’s not the car, it’s where you can drive.

MG Siegler responds to the rumor Google will introduce their own Android tablet this spring:

The problem here is that Amazon is selling the Kindle Fire at or near break-even (they may even be losing money on each unit sold when you consider marketing, etc). And customers are getting what they pay for — a tablet of significantly less quality than the iPad.

If Google is going to undercut the $199 price, the hardware is either going to be shit — or Google is going to have to take a significant loss on each one sold. Maybe they do that and say they’ll make it back in search advertising. But there is real money they’re going to have to pay to an OEM to get them to agree to that.

Siegler’s whole post is spot on, but what about the ecosystem this “highest quality” Android is going to live in? Eric Schmidt’s quote seems to be addressing the hardware of the device. Hardware is only half the story.
It’s like selling a car to someone who lives in the desert. Sure, they have a great piece of automotive technology with climate control, and power steering and satellite radio, but it’s useless without access to roads and gas stations and mechanics.
This is essentially what Android tablets are today — cars in the desert.
Amazon gets this and while their car might be crappy, they at least have roads to drive on and places to go. Books, music and movies, all a few clicks away. Seamless.
Yes Google has their Android Marketplace but from most the articles I’ve read, it’s a place where you can’t make much money and the piracies rival what you’d see on a Canal Street here in Manhattan.
So for me, I could give a shit what Google releases, if they release anything, this spring. If I have nowhere to go when I drive off the dealer’s lot, it’s not even worth buying.

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