A Wall Street Journal report says Google is gearing up to offer a co-branded tablet to seriously rival Apple's iPad.
Aiming to boost sluggish
sales of Android-based tablet devices in the face of Apples iPad juggernaut
(the latest version sold 3 million units its first weekend), Google may be
planning to partner with hardware manufacturers to produce co-branded tablets
that would be sold through a special online store, according to a report
in The Wall Street Journal
The companys recent $12.5
billion acquisition of Motorola Mobilityapproved by the U.S. Justice
Department in February, paves the way for Google to start building that
technology into its own tablets; however, the article quotes sources saying
Google would partner with manufacturers like Samsung and Asus rather than build
the tablet itself. Google said the Motorola deal was designed to
"super-charge" its Android operating system ecosystem, and the DOJ's
ruling concluded the Motorola acquisition and patent purchases would not lessen
competition in the mobile market.
While Apple remains the clear
winner in the tablet warsthe company sold 11.1 million iPads in the September
quarter, accounting for about three-quarters of all tablets sold to consumers,
according to Canaccord Genuitya recent report from research firm IDC found
Android tablets overall made significant gains in the space, expanding its
market share from 32.3 percent to 44.6 percent between the third and fourth
Extending their reach into a
co-branded and self-manufactured tablet device running the current version of
Android 4.0 (or Ice Cream Sandwich) or the upcoming operating system (code-named
Jelly Bean) could give Google traction on those gains.
The sheer number of vendors
shipping low-priced, Android-based tablets means that Googles OS will overtake
Apples in terms of worldwide market share by 2015, Tom Mainelli, IDCs
research director for mobile connected devices, wrote in a March 13 note.
Googles last major attempt
at co-branding a mobile device, the HTC Nexus One, debuted to mixed results in
2010. Google began selling the Nexus One solely online through a Webstore,
eschewing the classic phone retail model where carriers invite consumers into
their stores to buy handsets. The device, which Google itself designed from top
to bottom to stand for what the company wanted in a high-end smartphone, cost
$529 unlocked or $179 subsidized by a two-year deal from T-Mobile.
Android creator Andy Rubin,
who serves as senior vice president of mobile and digital content for Google,
acknowledged at this years Mobile World Congress that while there are
more than 300 million smartphones running the open-source operating system,
only 12 million tablets run Android to date. Rubin also said that Google would
"double down" on Android tablets in 2012, which led many analysts to
posit he was talking about a potential Nexus tablet.
Whichever way the rumored
tablet is eventually sold (if at all), The
Wall Street Journal
report suggested that brick-and-mortar retail stores
like Best Buy are also likely to welcome any competition to Apple. Some
retailers that sell iPads have chafed under Apple's rules that require stores
to promote its products more prominently, these people said, and the retailers
generate less revenue per sale of Apple products versus other electronic
devices, the article noted.