updated 12:10 pm EDT, Thu March 29, 2012
NVIDIA CEO hints at Nexus tablet plans
NVIDIA's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang in an interview mid-week has predicted that Android tablets will hit $199 by the summer. Speaking to the New York Times, he predicted that the presumably Tegra-based hardware would shave about $150 in costs. Some of this would come from reducing flash storage, although he also implied that quality might take a drop through reductions in "build materials."
The cuts would nonetheless change attitudes towards tablets and bring them closer to impulse purchases. "At $199, you can just about buy a tablet at a 7-Eleven," Huang said.
The price may be a reference to a rumored Nexus-like tablet that would hit the $199 mark. As described, it would use as much as a quad-core Tegra 3 behind its seven-inch display. The seven-inch slate, possibly made by ASUS, would both be a reference for Android as well as an attempt to prevent Amazon from 'hijacking' Android through its custom build on the Kindle Fire.
Despite having hopes for such low prices, the executive was disappointed with Android's performance. He was instead turning his attention to Windows 8; as most people bought computers for work, a Windows 8 tablet would fulfill both the need for the tablet and for work. Google's platform was ancillary. "Android hasn't developed as I'd hoped," the CEO said.
To date, only the Kindle Fire has garnered significant share from the iPad, and then mostly due to its being sold at a loss with content being Amazon's source of profit. Regular Android tablet makers have all had about six percent or less, and most of them use NVIDIA's Tegra 2.
NVIDIA may be hedging its bets through Chrome OS, as a Sony VAIO Chromebook has surfaced in testing with an upgraded Tegra 2. Chromebooks have reportedly sold poorly, but NVIDIA may be guessing that ARM's longer battery life than Intel chips could present a more convincing case for a web-only PC than current Chromebooks, which have less battery life than tablets but none of the native apps of Windows. Many expect Sony's model to show at the sold-out Google I/O conference in late June.