Honeycomb 'Unstable, Poorly Designed' Says Analyst

Google's tablet-optimized mobile OS, Android 3.0, or Honeycomb, in a Global Equities Research note to clients is being called a "complete misfire" that's "extremely complicated and confusing" and that will struggle to gain mass adoption by consumers.

"Google completely misfired on Honeycomb, some doubt if Google will even get a second chance on tablets," says the March 9 research note by analyst Trip Chowdhry.

Chief among concerns over Honeycomb is that users found the UI extremely complicated and confusing. The UI "just does not come naturally -- you really have to work on it," said many users, according to the document. Another user said, "If you're stepping out of the 1980s and check out Honeycomb on Motorola Xoom, you will probably love it, but sadly, it is year 2011, and Google’s Honeycomb just does not cut it."

In addition to the UI problems, the note to clients states that Honeycomb is suffering from serious quality and battery performance issues. These include frequent application freezes and crashes, inconsistent battery life that lasts anywhere from 2 to 6 hours and a battery standby life of 12 hours compared to 30 days on Apple's iPad. The note goes on to say that the auto-wrap, if text is magnified, is "completely missing, which just shows, Google is missing attention to simple details."

The criticism of Honeycomb comes on the eve of the iPad 2 launch and in the wake of reports of Android's meteoric rise in mobile OS market share.

Despite the issues raised by Chowdhry's note, some industry watchers believe the Motorola Xoom, and by default Honeycomb, is the first true challenger to Apple's iPads. In a roundup of hands-on reviews of the Xoom, Android 3.0 was called "sophisticated but puzzling."

The note goes on to say that Google is treating Android 3.0 like a free product, similar to Gmail, that's being continually tweaked, when in fact consumers are paying up to $800 when buying a Xoom tablet running Honeycomb.

"Google will collect the feedback and work on the Beta, and continuously improve upon it...Google Gmail, Google Maps, Google Voice are some examples of such a successful offering, they're in perpetual beta stage -- and it works…..but only as long as it is free.

"When the user pays $800 for a Xoom, the customer’s expectations change dramatically. Seems to us, Google completely misread the consumer behavior, and how it changes between when the product is free versus when the consumer has to pay $800," says the research note.

Chowdhry says in the document that the firm's research indicates that Google Honeycomb tablets are struggling, with Motorola’s Xoom tablets sales being extremely weak.

"Google Honeycomb software seems to be the weakest link, as the software is not complete and not fully tested. Honeycomb is unstable and poorly designed, which is raising questions if Google can even get the tablet OS right," says the note.

By press time, Google had not returned calls seeking comment.


Google, Android, mobile, tablet, Honeycomb