Technology Is Hard

Last night we finally got Jake’s Nexus 7 tablet fixed—by which I mean that the screen is replaced and the back cover is on securely enough that he feels comfortable using it. Through the process I learned a few interesting things about ASUS’s manufacturing practices. For instance, would you believe that the WiFi version and the 3G/WiFi version of the Nexus 7 hardware are completely different? Obviously, you might say, because one has only a WiFi card and the other a 3G card and WiFi card. But the screen (i.e. entire front assembly including LCD screen, digitizer, and bezel) is different! Why?! Why are there 15 screws on one and 21 screws on the other? And why, for the love of all things, are the chassis so wildly disparate?

I’m sure there are perfectly logical reasons, but I can’t think of any. Would it not be more cost and energy efficient for ASUS to produce only one front assembly, one chassis, and one back cover that would accommodate both chip layouts?