Does Google really need a new Nexus 10?

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Last week, Google delivered the Nexus 5, Android 4.4 KitKat… and that’s it. What happened to the Nexus 10? After all, last year we saw Google’s ten-inch tablet debut alongside the Nexus 4 and Android 4.2, and while we didn’t really have any evidence going into the launch this time that made the debut of a refreshed Nexus 10 2013 seem like a certainty – well… it just would have made a lot of sense for it to show up then, wouldn’t it?

So where does that leave us? There have been enough leaks and rumors pointing to work on a new Nexus 10, but details have been exceedingly light. Early on, we got what sure sounded like some pretty definitive statements from Google that Samsung would be returning to build this year’s Nexus 10, more recent leaks have been painting the picture of an ASUS-made device.

While the question of the manufacturer is an important one, we’ve been in the dark as to so much else about this device: SoC, memory, storage capacity, even resolution – no one seems to have a clue.

new-nexus-10-thin-lightBut as I wondered when we might start getting some hard info on this tablet, I found myself considering the possibility that it might not exist at all. After all, most of the evidence that’s arrived to date for the tablet have been screenshots of retailer systems, describing an ASUS Nexus 10. There’s no mention of “Nexus 10 2013 edition” or anything of that nature, and I’m finding it really hard to outright dismiss the possibility that more than a few retail workers confused the Nexus 7 with last year’s Nexus 10, leading to describing the one as coming from the manufacturer of the other.

And you know, the more I thought about that, the less objectionable I found the idea. What if Google DOESN’T come out with another ten-inch tablet? Would that be the end of the world? As far as I’m concerned, the Nexus lineup would be just fine moving on without one.

Last year, Google was first getting its bearings in the tablet market. We had the Nexus 7 over the summer, which got off to a great start, before the Nexus 10 arrived in the fall. I don’t intend to discount that quality of that tablet – the first Nexus 10 was a very nice device, with a killer resolution and an early A15-based SoC – but we just didn’t see it catch on with Android users in quite the same way as its little brother. Even months after launch, estimates put sales of the Nexus 10 at well under one million.

nexus10-5I could blame the lack of an option for a cellular-connected version for the Nexus 10 not doing as well as the Nexus 7, but I think it’s a lot more complicated for that. While normally we talk about seven-inch and ten-inch tablets attracting shoppers looking for different things out of their device, I’d wager that the Nexus 7 poached a fair share of Nexus 10 sales. Specifically, I think a lot of those shoppers were just enamored with the idea of a Google tablet, and either would fit the bill. But when looking at price tags, even with the Nexus 10 as great as a deal as it was, too many were swayed by the notion of only spending half as much on the Nexus 7.

But even ignoring the differences between those devices, and their relative popularity to each other, I can’t shake the very basic feeling that Google just doesn’t need two tablets. Keep the Nexus 7 or the Nexus 10 – I don’t care which – but I don’t think there’s a current need for Google to provide options between multiple models.

After all, we’re not clamoring for a four-inch Nexus phone or a Nexus phablet – just having one Nexus handset, Google’s smartphone beacon of the year, is what we ask for. I think that same sentiment should apply here; it’s not that we want a specific Nexus tablet, but just a Nexus tablet.

Don’t forget, this year Google also has a new option for people who dig the whole Nexus idea but are real proponents of having some extra hardware options: the Google Play Experience series. So far that’s only managed to manifest itself in the form of phones, but why not a Google Experience tablet?

I know, we all love Nexus models because they’re incredibly affordable and offer great value for the price; in that light, Google should not only release a Nexus 10, but a Nexus 8.9, Nexus 12 – any size you can want. What I’m suggesting is that while a new Nexus 10 would certainly be very nice, I don’t think it’s as relevant a product as its predecessor was a year ago, and if Google really does decide not to release another one this year, I don’t think it’s going to see much of a backlash from Android fans.

Think I’m totally off base here? Sound off in the comments and post your own defense for the Nexus 10.

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bitsRead more about Stephen Schenck!