The new Nexus 7 tablet is Google’s razor

by Michael Tarsala

It’s way too early to call Google’s Nexus 7 tablet an iPad killer – or even much of an iPad threat.

What could become a threat, though, is Google Play, which is arguably more of a long-term story than Google’s (GOOG) first tablet, announced as expected on Wednesday.

The reason?

It’s a platform war, not a hardware one.

Play is simply a bigger deal for Google shareholders. And it’s a bigger potential threat to shareholders of Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) or Apple (AAPL), too.

Think of the Nexus tablet as Google’s razor. Google Play its integrated front end, and where you go to find your razor blades.

And even more than Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are in the razor blade business – selling services that attach to the tablet.

Calling Google Play an online store is too simplistic. It really is the user experience that links you to movies, music, games, books and magazines. And customers are going to stay for that experience.

It’s true. Apple has a gargantuan, arguably insurmountable lead in tablets with more than 60% of the market.

But even that figure goes far beyond the hardware sales; think of all the thousands and thousands of available iPad apps that don’t work on the other platforms.

Google and Microsoft need far more apps to improve their user experience. And to get them, they need to woo more developers.

A good first step is to sell enough tablets to be taken seriously by the developer community – one reason you have to think Google is also planning a 10-inch tablet.

But over the coming years, the investment story is really about the success of Play, and if it becomes an ecosystem worthy of contention.

Other Google Nexus 7 notes:

  •  I will say this: It offers nice bang for the buck.
  •  As expected, it offers 1280x 800 HD resolution. That’s not as good as the new iPad, but higher than most anything else out there, and nothing at the $199 price point.
  • It comes with an Nvidia (NVDA) Tegra 3 so there’s superior processing power vs. the Kindle Fire. It also has front-facing camera, WiFi, Bluetooth, and the ability to record 9 hours of HD video.
  • There also was the introduction of new Google Android software that offers a few nice touches including voice-activated typing. It will audibly respond to a verbal Internet search, too.
  • Google spent most of its time at the product launch talking about Google Play and services, rather than the hardware — backing up the idea that this is really a platform play.

Photo by: Ovandevelde