I've just seen no indication that Google has long-term interest in maintaining a hardware manufacturing arm. They claim they will treat Motorola like any other manufacturer in terms of preferential treatment, access to software, etc. Sorry, I just don't buy that. I just don't see how that is a sustainable model. You own a manufacturing arm, yet you're still trying to maintain an open source model available to everyone while giving your own in-house brand no advantage?
Samsung is going to be making the tablet you speak of.
I just don't see how Google can maintain their relationship with their other manufacturing partners while they own an in-house manufacturing branch. It just seems like a huge conflict of interest no matter what Google says. Sooner or later there will be an alternative OS available. Maybe Windows finally gets their shit together or maybe it's something that isn't even on the radar right now. But, if there was a legit alternative, I have to think that manufacturers would give it a long, hard look due to the perceived conflict of interest with Google/Motorola. HTC, Samsung, and LG have all been fairly aggressive already pursuing options with Windows - primarily in AT&T, Windows just can't seem to get their shit together.
I completely agree with you that Google needs to step in and place some type of hardware minimums for Android. This hasn't been a big issue as of late with phones on the major carriers as they all have pretty robust hardware these days, but early on, you'd see phones launch and within 6 months or so they'd stop getting updates or the updates would cause huge problems because the hardware just wasn't sufficient for the new OS. Google also has to reduce the fragmentation on the market. There are way too many versions of Android out there. They said about a year and a half ago that they were actually looking to slow down the rate of development with Android in an effort to reduce this fragmentation, but I've seen no signs of that actually happening. Hell, the rumors about Jellybean started within a month of Ice Cream Sandwich officially rolling out. Jellybean has been out with the Nexus for several months and it's still not rolling out to other devices yet. I guarantee you that by the time it starts to roll out to other devices (by the end of the year) there will already be all kinds of rumors about what's next. You can't always be focused on what's next. You gotta take care of the here and now first. There are way too many versions of Android currently in use. You have low end pre-paid models still on Eclair. There's plenty of FroYo phones running around. The majority are on ICS and soon you'll have Jellybean and whatever's next after that. It seems like there are always a healthy dose of about 3 different versions on the market. That's just too much for app developers to have to deal with. The fragmentation causes most of the app problems seen in Android. The rate of development also means the app developers are constantly having to tweak their apps to ensure they're running properly. Not only do they have to deal with software fragmentation, but there's also the wide variety of hardware specs out there that they also have to consider. I'm not a developer, but I have to think it'd be a helluva headache.