When the iPad first hit the market, it changed the way consumers looked at computing, mobile devices, and productivity. It provided an easy way to accomplish basic tasks, a convenient way to surf the web, and bridged the gap between laptop and smartphone. As the natural competitor to iOS, Android had to fire back with a device that was comparable in function: the Motorola XOOM, the world's first Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablet. The XOOM and most subsequent Honeycomb tablets have achieved both form and functionality that rivals - and in most cases, bests - that of the iPad/2, so why hasn't the Android tablet market exploded?
I can answer that question with one simple word: apps.
The adoption of Honeycomb tablets has been less than spectacular due to the serious lack of tablet-specific applications. Sure, most apps upscale properly, and that works out fine in some cases (like games, for example), but why should users have to run the same version of Facebook, Twitter, or Google Docs that they run on their phone? Doesn't that almost defeat the purpose of having such a large, beautiful screen? You're damn right it does. The battle isn't lost though, because there are a few simple things that Google can do to help fix this conundrum.
The Android Developers Challenge
It has been almost two years since Google held an Android Developers Challenge. Dozens of wonderful apps were a direct result of previous dev challenges, and a Honeycomb-specific challenge would be a great way to encourage developers to either create a new tablet-centric app, or incorporate a tablet interface into an existing app. But one of the main purposes of the Android Developers Challenge is to not only encourage the development of better apps, but to get more developers interested in Android as a platform. In order to do this, the application writing process needs to be as simple and functional as possible, which brings me to my next point:
Fix the Honeycomb emulator
One of the most common complaints about Honeycomb development is how much the emulator just downright sucks. It's not only impractical, but highly frustrating and discouraging if you want to try and create something without the proper tools. If you're repairing a vehicle, what good does a broken wrench do? Sure, you still have a wrench, but if it doesn't work the way it's supposed to, then it serves little purpose in your toolbox.
Even with the right tools, though, a little encouragement, help, and support would go a long way. That's why I think that Google really needs to take control of the situation by inviting developers into its house. That's exactly what HP did and, as a direct result, the Touchpad will have more apps than Honeycomb when it launches. Workshops are a great way for devs to collaborate, learn new tips and tricks, and get the help they need to tweak things to perfection - and who better to provide such a service than the one who started it all?
There are so many other points that can spawn from this, but the brick-and-mortar is simple in idea: in order to solidify the success of Android-powered tablets for the future, Google will need to embrace and nurture the development community in addition to providing the tools needed to successfully promote Honeycomb-specific app development. And, with Ice Cream Sandwich on the horizon, now might be the best time to incorporate such a change.