Nvidia CEO: Android tablets could outsell iPad in 3 years

Jen-Hsun Huang says that Android tablets may well overtake Apple's iPad in the not too distant future as better models and more apps hit the market.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Android tablets could outsell Apple's iPad in less than three years, says Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, according to Reuters.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang Nvidia

Speaking at the Reuters Technology Summit in New York on Monday, the outspoken CEO noted that it took Android smartphones less than three years to outpace the iPhone.

"The Android phone took only two and a half years to achieve the momentum that we're talking about," Huang said at the summit. "I would expect the same thing on Honeycomb tablets."

With Nvidia supplying the Tegra 2 processor that powers many Android tablets, Huang has been both a cheerleader and sometime critic of Google's mobile OS and the devices that it powers.

To outpace Apple's popular iPad--the company said in March that it had sold 15 million iPads to that point, and accounted for 90 percent of the tablet market--the Android ecosystem will need to see improved tablet models and more mobile apps. Huang believes that will happen as the Honeycomb version of Android catches on and developers create more games and other apps to take advantage of the latest version of Android.

There also need to be improvements in Android tablets' retail presence, Huang told CNET blogger Brooke Crothers last week. "It's a point of sales problem. It's an expertise at retail problem. It's a marketing problem to consumers. It is a price point problem," Huang said.

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Huang admits that the first round of Android tablets were hampered by technical issues and a lack of marketing, prompting consumers to complain about prices and performance. He's especially pointed out the limitations of the Android versions prior to Honeycomb as they were designed for phones rather than tablets.

"You can't just do another product," Huang told CNET in an interview last November. "Look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It's a tablet that uses a phone operating system on a large display. A tablet is not a large phone."

However, his opinion of the second wave of tablets has been much more upbeat--he sees the newer devices as more affordable, more available, and more diverse. He's also more optimistic about Android with the release of Honeycomb, the first version optimized specifically for tablets.

Huang's upbeat expectation for Android tablets overtaking iPads has been echoed by Michael Dell. The CEO and founder of PC maker Dell, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last month, used the same smartphone reference point. "If you look at 18 months ago, Android phones were like, 'What is that?' And now there are more Android phones than iPhones," Dell said.

As with any new product, initial kinks always need to be worked out and "the first versions tend to be a bit clumsy to roll out," Huang said, according to Reuters. That statement holds true even for Honeycomb 3.0, which he admits has certain shortcomings that everyone was aware of. But he seems happy so far with the follow-up version of Honeycomb 3.1, which he dubbed "delightful."

Nvidia is also ready to push the envelope of Android tablets with the upcoming release of its Kal-El mobile processor. Christened with Superman's birth name, the new chip will offer a quad-core processor and higher-resolution graphics, promising five times the performance of Nvidia's current Tegra 2 chip.