Nexus tablet device sales remain a bit nebulous, since Google doesn’t give out specific numbers around them. But industry watchers, and Benedict Evans in particular, often try to pierce the veil to find out where the Nexus brand stands compared to the rest of the industry when it comes to sales. The Nexus 10, it seems, probably pales in comparison to most.
The tablet, manufactured by OEM partner Samsung, went on sale in November of last year, just shortly after the iPad mini, and based on Evans’ estimates from modeling active Android users, combined with information from Google’s development data based on screen sizes and resolution in use. Based on there being 680 million active Android users by the end of April, Evans says that that means 6.8 million Nexus 7 devices total, and only around 10 percent of that, or 680,000 Nexus 10s.
As Evans notes, Apple sold somewhere near 10 million iPads during just the final two months of Q4 2012 by comparison. It also announced total iPad sales for its first fiscal quarter of 2013 of 22.9 million iPads total, including bot the iPad mini and the standard iPad. To say that Google’s efforts with the larger Nexus tablet so far haven’t had customers rushing to stores would be fair, even if Evans’ estimate is only loosely accurate.
Google is said to be preparing to debut a next-generation Nexus 10 already, with an improved CPU and GPU. But the issue here is not really about device quality; many found the Nexus 10 a fine performer, especially compared to many other larger Android devices from other sources.
Google’s line of self-branded hardware has never been fully about selling product. They started out being more about acting as reference designs, to show OEM partners what was possible with the platform. Lately, thanks to extreme affordability and increasingly impressive hardware like the Nexus 4, however, they’re becoming more popular with general consumers. But an LG-made smartphone that fits a need most consumers already know they have, with a proven product category like the Android smartphone is a far cry from a 10-inch Android tablet, which the market has so far shown little interest in, no matter what the source or the price.
The inflection point for Android tablet sales still has yet to appear. Google’s Nexus efforts in this case could be a crucial element of helping that happen, but only if the company can also start to aggressively expand software options tailored for Android tablets and make sure customers are aware of why they might want such a device.