Analysis: Acer gets a dose of Android tablet reality

Many journalists and analysts have questioned if there is a viable tablet market aside from Apple’s wildly popular iPad.

Although the lucrative segment is still rapidly evolving, two essential points have become painfully apparent: Google has dropped the Android Honeycomb ball and forced the mobile industry to pin its hopes on a potential Windows 8 savior.

It is certainly no secret that sales of Android tablets have been less than stellar. 

Although there is plenty of blame to go around, Google hasn’t exactly been on its best behavior when it comes to helping OEMs optimize Android Honeycomb for anything other than a 10-inch tablet form factor.

Nor has the Android tablet market benefited from overpriced devices such as Motorola’s Xoom, or from artificial Asus EEE Transformer Pad “shortages” caused by a severe lack of stock, rather than (legitimately) high demand. 

It also goes without saying that Windows 7 cannot, even on the best of days, be described as a tablet-friendly OS. Nevertheless, the industry clearly has high hopes for an ARM version of Windows 8 that does away with Microsoft’s traditional bloat and is likely to offer an optimized mobile experience.

But in the meantime, companies like Acer have been forced to slash their shipment targets for tablets by almost 60%.

Still, Acer chairman J.T. Wang remains optimistic about the company’s tablet future, telling a recent shareholder meeting  overall shipments are projected to significantly improve during the third quarter.

“The third quarter will be considerably more stable. It will be similar to the second quarter or better,” claimed Wang. “The fourth quarter will be even better.”

According to the chairman, Acer has effectively lowered its target for tablet shipments in 2011 to 2.5-3 million units, which is obviously quite lower than the 5-7 million units target set at the beginning of the year.

While the future of the “non-iPad” tablet market remains uncertain, it is clear that Acer and other companies have suffered from a rather unpleasant overdose of Android (and, to a lesser extent, Windows 7) reality.  

It is indeed ironic to ponder, but Microsoft may very well have more of a chance of taking on Apple in the tablet space than Google.

May the best tablet win.