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 companiesespecially those working in new markets for the first timehit 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 againthis 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 summerlate 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