The Google Nexus 7 tablet has a starting price of $199. For that price you get a 7 inch tablet with a quad-core processor and Google Android 4.1 software — but just 8GB of storage.

If you want 16GB, you’ll need to pony up $249. And it turns out a lot of people do want that extra storage, because Google and its retail partners have already sold out of 16GB tablets.

Google Nexus 7

According to The Guardian, that’s at least partly because Google underestimated demand for that model, figuring the 8GB $199 Nexus 7 tablet would be more popular.

The smaller model is still in stock at the Google Play Store, but if you want a 16GB model you have to sign up to receive an email when the tablet becomes available again.

Google’s tablet doesn’t have a microSDHC card slot, which means that it’s difficult to add extra storage space once you buy the tablet. You can root the tablet and install a third party app called StickMount to enable support for USB flash drives. But that’s a pretty clunky solution.

So the best way to get a device with more space for apps, media, documents, and other files is just to buy the 16GB model.

I’m not surprised Google was banking on the smaller model. Not only is an 8GB tablet cheaper to buy (and cheaper to produce) than a model with 16GB. But Google is also in the business of promoting cloud services.

When you buy a Nexus 7 tablet, Google provides you with $25 to spend on apps, games, music, movies, books, and other content from the Google Play Store. If you buy music, movies, or books, you can stream them directly from the internet to your device. There’s no need to download and save anything at all.

That’s all fine and well if you have a speedy internet connection handy. But the Nexus 7 is a WiFi-only device, so good luck streaming video while you’re riding a bus or train.

You can download movies for offline viewing — but when I downloaded the free Transformers: Dark of the Moon video that came free with my Nexus 7 purchase, I found the 2.5 hour movies took up nearly 3GB, or roughly half the available disk space on my tablet (the operating system and app storage takes up about 2GB of the 8GB).

In other words — 8GB isn’t a lot of space. Google and manufacturing partner Asus probably could have alleviated demand for the 16GB model by including a microSDHC card slot for additional storage. But without that option, it’s not surprising that many shoppers are interested in the model with more storage. $249 is still a pretty good price for a 7 inch tablet with a 1280 x 800 pixel display, 1GB of RAM, and 1.2 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor.


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21 replies on “16GB Google Nexus 7 tablet sold out, Google may have underestimated demand”

  1. The only way I’d hook a tablet to the net is through wifi anyhow. I can tether it to my phone if I want to access the Internet outside of the house. In any case, this is getting closer to the price-point/quality level that I need before I part with money for a tab device.

  2. The 16gb version has a profit margin to play with (meaning they can let retailers sell them) while the 8gb version has such slim margins they would have to take it at a loss if they let retailers sell it.Its possible Google shorted themselves the 16gb version in order to make sure retailers had a decent supply.

  3. The Nexus 7 is completely irrelevant outside the US (and maybe UK) market anyway. Another irritating instance of US navel gazing.

    1. I’m in Australia and I’ll order one when the 16 gig one is in stock.

  4. It’s all speculation at this point, but even if Google underestimated demand for the 16gb model, it’s all to their advantage: $7 extra manufacturing cost, $50 incremental price = $43 additional profit (or reduced loss).

    The key thing with any device, tablet, laptop, etc., is to know your needs, and choose accordingly. In my case, I’m already heavily committed to the Google ecosystem, I don’t use a phone or a tablet for photography/videography, I don’t see a tablet as a useful device for viewing movies, and I abhor services with ongoing costs, such as a smartphone with a 3G data plan. For that use case, a Nexus 7 is a very good fit.

    I’m still not a tablet person, and prefer the richer experience of a computer, but in the tablet world, the Nexus 7 is a strong competitor. Yes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple will probably release competing products, which may render the N7 “obsolete” but that’s the nature of the computing business — whatever you buy today will be surpassed by something more powerful and/or cheaper within 6 months.

  5. I think the people at Google just live in a magical world with 100% free wifi coverage

  6. It might have been their plan all along.

    Intentionally limit supply of the 16GB model in order to get the media to print/post “Nexus 7 sold out” articles everywhere (Apple do the same with iDevices, fyi), hence giving readers the impression that it’s a “must-buy” product.

    More people order the 16GB model, which has a higher profit margin (additional 8GB doesn’t cost $50) for Google and Asus. Those that can’t wait order the 8GB model and are steered to cloud services, so Google gains from that as well.

    All just speculation on my part, but it’s probable.

  7. Another reason why Google may have underestimated demand is their experience with the Nexus One. That was the first device that you could only buy from Google, and it didn’t sell so well. It seems that people are more willing to buy a small tablet sight unseen than buy a phone that way.

    1. I don’t know why Google would base anything off the Nexus One which was over 2 years ago. It was a cell phone instead of a tablet, two very different markets. It released with Android 2.1 arguably not as good as what the iPhone had at the time. It was also sold at $500+ and had almost zero offline marketing. They also didn’t have a solid ecosystem at the time.

      I would have thought Google would have based things off the Kindle Fire, which it seems they did, but just somehow underestimated how well the 16GB would sell. Surely they have focus groups? Surely they don’t just release stuff blindly into the market and hope things stick?

      1. New product releases are always a gamble and focus groups aren’t 100% accurate.

        Though, considering of the two models that only the 16GB version gives them, or Asus at least, any real profit that they’re more than happy with the results.

        1. I bet if they just posted to some forum and asked people if they would rather have an 8GB $199 tablet or a 16GB $250 tablet they would have easily gotten their answer. I don’t know what the answer is. For all I know people would want the 8GB version. I personally would have went for 16GB. Though, I kind of like Matti’s hypothesis where Google meant for this to happen in order to increase demand (producing a “must have” item) similar to what Apple does. I’m pretty sure Google plans these things.

  8. The SD slot, I believe, would have caused other issued. . . like licensing with Microsoft. . . so I’ve heard.

    They should have just gone with a 16GB model only and shaved a few bucks off to come in under the Nook and close enough to the KF, but I understand the “match Amazon” mentality that went into the decision making.

    1. ”The SD slot, I believe, would have caused other issue”

      I would be interested in hearing more about that issue……..brad sir

      1. Google has various reasons not to include a SD card with their Nexus products.

        Like it allows them to use ext file systems instead of a mix of ext and FAT, making the drive performance faster and safer. Since a journalized file system means fewer file errors, and the ext preserves
        file system permissions so random code can’t find your pictures or
        documents folder.

        Incidentally, it also means app install space equals whole internal capacity. Something to consider as some apps are getting pretty large, especially gaming apps and this is a Tegra 3 device.

        More specifically to the SD card is that the host machine (when your device is connected to a computer) can’t muck things up and molest the file system, as it doesn’t have block-level access to the files that can cause corruption, etc.

        Part of the problem is also the mounting issues and that the SD card is not accessible by the device when it’s being shared with the host machine, which can cause problems if you have any apps on it or have data your apps need to work on it.

        In some of the latest ICS Android phones they’re even starting to drop UMS for MTP. Using a proxy FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace) file system is used to mount a psuedo-SD card folder. Though the system isn’t quite perfected yet but there are work around solutions for now.

      2. This is because the microSD slot would have potentially required royalty payments to Microsoft for use of exFAT or FAT32. By not including the microSD slot, the entire internally memory space is formatted to ext3, which is more secure, faster, and royalty free.

      3. No SD slot, no buy from me. I’ll wait for Asus or anyone to build a similar device for a similar price with what I need.
        They can put any FS on the SD card and warn users about it, if it’s really a licensing problem.

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