Nvidia is doing relatively well in the tablet space, with its Tegra 2 SoC being the core piece of silicon inside Honeycomb tablets like the Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. But Android was off to a slow start in this market compared to the hot-selling iPad. The platform's lack of 'killer' apps and unpolished software has been mentioned before as key weaknesses, but Nvidia's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang says this is just part of the problem.
"It's a point of sales problem. It's an expertise at retail problem. It's a marketing problem to consumers. It is a price point problem," he said in a recent chat with Cnet. Although Huang didn't mention any specific products, he clearly had Apple and the iPad in mind. Not only did the company have the lowest priced device in the market when it launched the first two iterations of the iPad, they also had a solid advantage when it came to distribution and marketing.
Having their own stores allows them to explain its product better to consumers through dedicated sales people, and it also means they can capture bigger margins than competitors who share a cut on each sale with retail partners.
The fact that tablets were initially selling with a smartphone OS was also a big issue, though Honeycomb has taken care of that for the most part. Lastly, Huang mentioned that tablets should be offered in a base WiFi-only configuration from day one, rather than launching with the 3G versions for the sake of packing more features and holding off the more affordable variants for later -- much like Motorola did with its heavily hyped Xoom.
Nvidia's chief executive believes the second round of Android tablets are far better than the first generation of devices, though, and while there are still issues that need to be dealt with we are already seeing the first devices that meaningfully undercut Apple's $499 price for the iPad 2 without sacrificing functionality. The Acer Iconia and Asus Transformer are two examples of that, and we're definitely interested to see what's next.