Google Readying 7-Inch Tablet for Late Summer Release

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-04-08 Print this article Print

Two-and-a-half years after failing with its first connected smart device, Google is doing it again—this time with a tablet PC. This one will be a co-branded Android tablet with Asustek Computer of Taiwan.

Google has come a long way since it launched its first Android consumer device, the Nexus One, with HTC back in January 2010, in its first attempt to compete with the Apple iPhone.

Well, that one crashed and burned. Verizon veered away and eventually decided to stick with the iPhone and (eventually) other Android phones, performance complications set in, and the Nexus One quickly faded into oblivion.

Google can be forgiven, certainly. Few companies€”especially those working in new markets for the first time€”hit home runs as soon as they step into the batter's box. Since then, of course, companies such as HTC, Motorola, Lenovo and others have come up with popular Android-powered smartphones, and the Nexus One now is merely a collector's item.

A major issue with its sales, it turned out, was that the Nexus One was made available only via online order, and not in retail stores. The look, feel and responsiveness of any phone obviously can't be experienced until the device is actually in the user's hands. As a result, a high percentage of the Nexus Ones were returned to HTC and Google when they didn't live up to users' expectations.

In fairness, as the first Google phone out of the box, the Nexus One taught the company a great deal about the phone business, and subsequent models (Nexus S and S2, Nexus Galaxy) have been much more successful.

Second Try at a Co-Branded Smart Device

Two and a half years later, Google is doing it again€”this time with a tablet PC. This first one will be a co-branded (with Asustek Computer of Taiwan) Android device that is expected to become available near the end of this summer€”late July or August.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt let it slip to an Italian newspaper last December that the company would have a tablet "in six months." Well, the project is pretty much on schedule after all. Device Website The Verge reported April 6 that Google originally planned to launch the tablet next month but decided to push it back because the device was becoming too expensive.

In order for any device to compete with the iPad and Amazon's Kindle Fire, a lower price is going to have to be the main attraction, and Google knows it. Google opted to spend a few more months modifying the tablet to bring the price down, the site reported.

The company's product team is making these design changes now with the goal to drop the price at least $50 below the original retail tag of $249, so it can compete directly with the Kindle Fire (same 7-inch size, $199).

7-inch Screen, Ice Cream Sandwich OS

The Google WiFi-only tablet (pictured) features a 7-inch screen and an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor. It is powered by Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

Google's co-branding strategy with Asustek in Android tablets may indicate that other Far Eastern device manufacturers also will be working with the company in the future, including Samsung Electronics, Acer and others.

Editor's note: This story has been augmented to add more background about the entire Google Nexus phone product line.

Chris Preimesberger is eWEEK Editor for Features and Analysis. Twitter: @editingwhiz

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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