Google gives away 5,000 Samsung tablets to I/O attendees

Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Android TabletThe attendees at Google’s I/O conference received a nice surprise today when Hugo Barra was discussing the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Android Tablet and announced, “Thanks to Samsung, all 5,000 of you are getting one today.”  Typically, Google will give out freebies at these conferences, but generally they have been phones in the past.

More important than the giveaway from Samsung however , is the implied message that Google will be focusing on tablets in the near future.  It’s no secret that the Android lags far behind the iPad in the tablet market in terms of sales, and the app availability for the Android is equally as deficient.  By giving away the tablets today, the companies hope to gain favor among the developers and programmers of the crowd, which could help beef up the availability of new apps for the Android platform.

Google also announced the Android 3.1 today, which is a Honeycomb update that will add usability functions, a movie rental service, and the option to plug in USB devices.

This may be signaling a new turn in Google’s business strategy.  In the recent Millard Brown Brandz valuation list, Google was dethroned after a four year run by none other than Apple who saw record growth thanks to their tablet iPads.  If Google can help draw more programmers to the Android platform, then it may help draw more consumers to the platform as well.  This could cut down the dominating market share Apple currently holds in the tablet market, and help bolster Google’s brand value in the process after seeing a slight decrease this past year.  It’s a lot of what if’s, but clearly no one is complaining about Google’s giveaway today, and moves like these do make for good business.