The Nexus 7 is a Good Thing – if Apple ups their Game

A lot of people are concerned about the competition in the smaller-tablet market provided by Google’s Nexus 7. Paperback sized, powerful, slick, reasonably priced and running on pure, unfiltered-by-bloatware Android, the Nexus 7 is a dream tablet that makes you question your purchase of an iPad. Or does it?

The interesting thing about the Nexus 7 is that it and other smaller tablets have pushed Apple towards considering smaller devices. Its response has been the iPad Mini, one of the nicest devices Apple have ever produced – perfectly sized, and when a Retina update hits, as wonderful to look at as its larger cousins. While it meant that new iPad devices launched six months early, upsetting some early adopters (although with yearly device updates, what is “early?”), the Mini itself is proof that good things can come of strong competition.

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Where Apple have two distinct advantages are their nearly invincible brand, and their near-monopoly on games and apps for iOS. It’s arguable that not issuing iOS to non-Apple devices has meant the company has had to rush to catch up with Android which can be found on a wide variety of new bits of plastic, metal and glass. Pressure from the competition has driven Apple to start releasing updates twice a year, and considering their prices and the fashionability of the latest iPhone. This has led to some criticism as, if anything, their prices are getting higher despite the fact that everyone’s wallets are getting lighter during the recession.

At the same time, it’s rare that people buy Apple devices that then stop working a year into their lifetime, and the same can’t be said for a lot of others. Many a time you’ll see people using years-old Macbooks and iPhones, and it’s that extra price that seems to be what stands between many users and a long-lifetime product. They’re also durable, able to be updated quite a few times before they’re finally too old for the latest update, and generally feel less “throwaway” than the latest Android devices.

That Android spread is part of the problem – so much bloatware and so many different platforms mean development is a nightmare, and a centralised user experience is impossible. Whereas iOS 6 just looks like, well, iOS 6, Android’s Jellybean update could look like a vastly different OS on two different devices, and I don’t think any logical person would claim that such a fragmented link between two running versions of the same operating system could ever be beneficial to anyone.

However, the Nexus 7 is also really cheap compared to the iPad, and this is one of the reasons that the iPad Mini is significantly cheaper than some would have expected. It’s not just the lack of a Retina Display keeping the cost of Apple’s latest hardware down – it’s the fact that in this era of tablets, there are high-quality options like the Nexus 7 that are directly challenging the “luxurious” and “ease-of-use” advantages Apple has lorded over its competition for years.

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For Apple enthusiasts, I would take one thing away from this: survival of the fittest. When devices like the Nexus appear, don’t fear for the future of your favourite app developers – consider how hard Apple will push to maintain their position. Bearing in mind their considerable price differences from the rest of the market (usually), they have to do a lot to justify their ongoing success. While the fact that Apple is a fashionable tech brand certainly helps, but for the tech-heads spending money on the latest hardware, the company also have to sell what’s the under the hood, and the iPad Mini does just that. Don’t be surprised if an updated iMac with a touch-capacitive Retina Display appears in the next year or two – Apple’s just showing everyone how it’s done.

About the Author: Allie Cooper is a young upcoming writer, a certified gamer known for weaving in her indelible wit into tech and game reviews, and writes about O2, tech companies, from UK and internet start-ups to bigger businesses. Follow me on Twitter and G+.

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