news Google’s popular Nexus 7 tablet has been selling out repeatedly since it launched in Australia in late July, according to the tablet’s manufacturer ASUS, in what may mark the first commercially successful launch of a tablet computer in Australia apart from Apple’s market-dominating iPad.
The Nexus 7 is the first tablet to run the new ‘Jelly Bean’ version of Google’s Android operating system, as well as being one of the first Android tablets to depart from the 10″ form factor popularised by Apple’s iPad and go for a smaller, 7″ form factor. The device also features a number of other headline specifications — a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, a 1280×800 backlit IPS HD display and a 4325mAh battery, although it does lack mobile broadband access through 3G or 4G networks.
The Nexus 7 was available at launch to Australian customers, who could order in the device from overseas, but it also went on sale, according to several reports (PCWorld Australia, Gizmodo) through a large variety of Australian retailers — Harvey Norman, JB Hi Fi, Dick Smith, Bing Lee, The Good Guys, Retravision, Radio Rentals, Officeworks, EB Games, Costco, BSR and other authorised ASUS resellers.
In response to a question from an Australian Twitter user on how many Nexus 7 units had been sold in Australia so far, the Twitter account of ASUS Australia wrote yesterday: “No official figures for [Australia], but we’ve sold out of every shipment that has come in and have done so in around 1 or 2 weeks each.” This response was first reported by AusDroid.
The device is relatively unique in the tablet marketplace in that it is a full-powered device with the latest specifications, but is selling at quite a modest price — just $319 for the 16GB model in retail stores, or $249 online through Google’s store direct. This means the tablet compares favourably with Apple’s market-leading iPad, which starts at $429 for the older iPad 2 generation, or from $539 for the newer model.
If the Nexus 7 is selling out repeatedly in Australia — as it also appears to be doing in the US and UK — it could indicate a changing dynamic in terms of the tablet market share locally.
Research published by analyst house Telsyte in February revealed that Apple sold about one million iPads in Australia in 2011, representing around 76 percent of the total local market for the new burgeoning tablet category. Other estimates have placed Apple’s market share as high as 80 or even 90 percent, with other players using the such as Samsung, Acer, Toshiba, Motorola and others failing to make much of a dint in Apple’s local market share despite launching around a dozen new tablets in Australia over the past several years. Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has been similarly unpopular. Earlier research published in December 2011 by IDC also showed Android tablet growth slowing.
Perhaps the largest rival to Apple’s iPad over that period in Australia has been Amazon’s Kindle line of eBook readers, which has some models — such as the Kindle Fire — which mimick some of the functionality found on the iPad. The Kindle Fire didn’t launch in Australia, but saw strong interest from Australians when it was launched internationally. The company’s e-ink Kindles have been very strongly popular in Australia and are the dominant eBook readers locally.
I have seen very strong interest in the Nexus 7 from Delimiter readers and others. Based on this, the sheer breadth of the distribution agreements which ASUS has in place in Australia and ASUS’ new statements about its local stock selling out, I would say that the Nexus 7 is already the leading alternative to the iPad in Australia right now. If Google can keep up the stock and not run out, I anticipate we will see a lot of Nexus 7 tablets selling in Australia.
Why is this? Well, to some extent commentators have been calling this all along. The Nexus 7 offers two advantages over the iPad. Firstly, it comes in the 7″ form factor which many people prefer over Apple’s large 10″ size. And secondly, it’s simply cheaper than the iPad — and the price is not too far off that magic “impulse buy” figure of a couple of hundred dollars. When you start to go above $300, many Australians will hesitate a lot. But when the price is closer to $200, many people will jump.
Then, too, Android has been getting pretty solid recently, and the chance to pick up Jelly Bean on a tablet before it gradually arrives on smartphones over the next six months or so makes the Nexus 7 very appealing to those of us who follow such things. I’m getting a Nexus 7 review unit in this week, so I’ll be able to test it out in detail shortly.
I should also note that the speed at which Google and ASUS have been able to get the Nexus 7 to market in Australia surprised me. I wrote back in June that I expected the Nexus 7 to hit local retailers much later in 2012. As it is, by getting the Nexus 7 to market so quickly, the tablet is falling in between Apple’s iPad release cycle, meaning it is likely winning over quite a few customers who would otherwise be looking forward to the next iPad.
Image credit: Google