PapayaMobile's Paul Chen on why Honeycomb offers a new dawn for Android tablets
Android 3.0 to give Google the advantage over Apple
Commentators may be all to willing to write off the current batch of Android tablets – namely Samsung's Galaxy Tab – as a false start for the OS, but even the most sceptical are willing to admit Android 3.0 will offer iPad a more meaty challenge.
Android based social gaming network PapayaMobile is no such sceptic, of course, given the roots of the company are based firmly in Google's OS.
Nonetheless, head of business development Paul Chen says its not overstating the impact of Honeycomb to suggest that tablets running the OS – Motorola's Xoom and Galaxy Tab 2 expected to be the frontrunners – will swipe large portions of Apple's market share in the years to come.
End of the phoney war
"In the year since the iPad's release, it has undoubtedly changed the landscape of mobile gaming," Chen said in an email sent to Pocket Gamer.
"Games on the iPad not only have greater depth and graphics but have blurred the lines from typically 'dip in and out' casual games associated with mobile, to more of a console feel, with gamers putting in the hours and engaging with games such as Monkey Island 2, Dead Space and Infinity Blade.
"Having had an unchallenged market for the last year, things are about to change for the iPad with the launch of Google Tablet."
Chen's Google Tablet moniker refers to the roll out of Honeycomb in 2011, which, in his view, marks day one of Android's assault on the tablet market.
Unlike Galaxy Tab, Honeycomb will enable Android tablets to actually lead iPad in some areas, rather than merely follow it.
"Taking advantage of something that the iPad never had, the Google Tablet enables Flash support, meaning that Flash games being created on the market are now supported in the tablet form factor," Chen added.
"With the use of the latest mobile processors, two CPU cores and a top-of-the-line 3D engine, the Google Tablet has the capability to support high CPU and 3D intensive games. This means that developers can begin to create PC and console quality games in the mobile space.
"This kind of development will serve to increase the quality of games available on the Android Market, ultimately strengthening the ecosystem."
Rich and poor
Most important, however, will be Android's ability to target all markets at once.
Chen believes Android tablets will follow the same model already adopted by smartphones running the OS, with some tablets clearly pitched at the top end of the market, while others will be more suited to those on a budget.
"Probably one of the most important aspects of the availability of Honeycomb for Google tablets is that manufacturers now have an OS platform to address the mid-tier to low-tier tablet market, a market that the iPad cannot, or is unlikely to ever address," Chen concluded.
"This means that countries like China, along with other emerging markets, now have access to a low cost tablet computer, enabling game developers to reach entirely new demographics."
In Chen's view, the question won't be whether Android tablets have leadership in such regions, but rather whether studios working on apps for such devices will be able to make enough money.
"The challenge for game developers now will be whether these new markets can be as effective in monetising as geographies like Japan, Korea, US and European markets."
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