Now that search behemoth Google is officially in the hardware business, rumors of a 7-inch Android tablet are kicking up again, this time from the stalwart rumor-monger DigiTimes. The Taiwanese tech publication causes geek hearts to flutter with reports from unnamed sources in the supply chain of any number of gadgets, from updated iPhones to tablets built in collaboration with Asus, like their most recent report.
Google and Asus are reportedly working on a 7-inch tablet for release in July, with an initial shipment of 600,000 units starting in June. Google originally planned to release its entry-level 7-inch tablet PC in May, but design and costs did not reach its expectations, and the product was delayed to July for some minor adjustments, the report said. The 7-inch tablet PC is expected to achieve total shipments of 2 to 2.5 million units in 2012.
Rumors of a Google co-branded tablet are not particularly new. Way back in December, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt let slip to the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera that the company was planning to directly manufacture tablet devices of the highest quality and mentioned a six-month window for production.
The tablet would certainly run on the latest version of Googles open-source Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0, or the upcoming operating system, "Jelly Bean." The companys recent $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobilityapproved by the U.S. Justice Department in February and completed just this weekpaves the way for Google to start building that technology into its own tablets. Google has named Dennis Woodside, a longtime Google employee, as the new CEO of Motorola Mobility.
Despite numerous competitors, Apple maintains its dominance of the tablet market, which it helped revive with the introduction of the iPad in April 2010. A recent report from IT research firm IDC said that in the first quarter, Apples share of unit shipments rose to 68 percent, while sales of Android-based devices fell. Since the iPads launch, Apple has released two updates of the device, the latest being the new iPad, which hit the market this year with a high-definition Retina display and improved processing power. The company is also rumored to be releasing a 7-inch version of the iPad, a so-called iPad Mini with a price point below $300.
Although industry analysts doubt Apple will actually release the product, a survey by Pricegrabber found that more than half (52 percent) of respondents would consider purchasing an iPad Mini for approximately $250 to $300, with a lower price and smaller size being the two most-anticipated features. How this would affect Googles plans to gain traction in the tablet market is undetermined.