Hey Android Tab Makers: Put Them Where People Can See Them

That tablets are beginning to supplant the bog-standard PCs in some people’s lives shouldn’t come as a surprise, but what about outside of the home? Tablets are in some ways better suited to certain situations where managing PCs can be a real hassle.

Dan Frommer ran into such a situation not long ago — while at JFK International Airport, Fromm found himself relaxing at the MasterCard Lounge surrounded by a handful of iPads intended for guest use.

When you think about it, the iPad seems perfect for situations like that. They’re small, much easier to maintain than a bank of PCs, and perhaps most importantly, they just work. For a traveler looking to burn through a bit of downtime before a flight, it could be a godsend.

Frommer notes that this is a great opportunity for Apple to expand their iPad business, but I think if anything, an Android-friendly company could fit into that sort of situation even better. Android tablets are often left to compete on price, so a solid volume pricing deal isn’t out of the question for companies with a pronounced business focus like Samsung. The open nature of Android also means it’s much less of a chore to restrict access to certain bits of functionality, so the process of stripping down an Android tablet for use in a very specific context becomes much more feasible.

Recent figures from eMarketer project that the iPad’s dominance of the tablet market will slowly taper off in the coming years. Whether or not this will come to pass is still up in the air, but Apple’s facing some non-trivial competition in the form of devices like the Kindle Fire. It’s by far the shabbier device on paper — smaller, slower, etc. — but it’s priced aggressively and it works well enough for what it was intended to do. A savvy Android tab manufacturer should take that lesson to heart: sometimes a tablet doesn’t have to do everything in every situation, it just has to do enough.

As our MG Siegler adroitly pointed out, specs are meaningless — it’s all about the kind of experience that a device can deliver. An Android tablet could easily pull its weight as a guest-friendly timewaster, or a digital sign, or any other situation where a PC wouldn’t fit. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the right company with the right product to make the right deals.