Google might need physical stores like Apple's to succeed with Android tablet sales, Enderle said. It also needs a history of online sales success like Amazon's in selling books and merchandise before Amazon rolled out the Kindle Fire.
"Amazon did well with the Kindle Fire because Amazon already had massive online store traffic," Enderle said. "If you have zero online traffic like Google, how are you going to do what Amazon's done?"
As for competing with the iPhone, Google has no online stores or service mechanism like Apple does, Enderle said. "On ever single vector other than variety of tablets, the iPad is beating Android," Enderle noted. "The iPad has a better user interface, is more elegant, and has better support. Apple's brick-and-mortar stores give Apple a huge advantage. So an online property at Google won't in any significant way help the battle Google has with Apple's tablets."
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, had nearly the opposite view.
"Even if Google gains a smallish share of iPad [with the online store], they still get what they need," Gold said. Google's online tablet store would be a good strategic move in several ways, Gold said.
One way is that Google would be able to offer a cobranded device that would serve as a reference design in a market with many versions of Android tablets, Gold said. "The market is all over the place on OS versions of Android and device hardware, so an online store with a Google-branded tablet could give Google a chance to establish a reference [design] that other vendors would have to move toward to reduce fragmentation," Gold said.
In a similar fashion, Google would get more users on the latest version of the OS, he said.
Finally, Gold said an online store would help Google get "major numbers of tablets sold to compete head-on with iPads ... this [online store] could stimulate market interest and get more devices sold from all the Android vendors."
Gold concluded: "Think of Google in the tablet market with its own device as a way to stimulate the market and consolidate the wide diversity/fragmentation."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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