Google Nexus Honeycomb Tablet On Tap from LG

Google may sell a Nexus-branded Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" tablet made by LG this year. No word on whether this is a test device or a go-to-market slate.

Google has reportedly tapped phone maker LG to build an Android 3.0, or "Honeycomb," for the search engine's Nexus brand, which has been accorded to two smartphone lines to date.

Citing a report from Russian blog Mobile Review, Boy Genius Report said the Nexus tablet would be used as Google's base for development when it's launched in mid-summer or early fall.

"It is important to keep in mind that this device could be an engineering prototype used by Google internally for Android-tablet development," BGR noted.

Google declined to comment to eWEEK, though most industry watchers believe a Honeycomb tablet designed by Google would hold true to the Nexus formula in including only Google-approved software. Nexus-branded smartphones, such as the HTC-built Nexus One and Samsung Nexus S, were co-designed sans carrier between Google and their respective makers.

Knowing that the alleged Nexus tablet would run Honeycomb explains a lot about the product since that tablet-optimized defines the entire Android slate ecosystem at this point. Honeycomb slates include Motorola Mobility's Xoom, the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 slates, and, of course, the LG G-Slate.

Less clear is whether the device is WiFi only or, WiFi plus 3G-enabled, and if it is the latter, what carriers would sell the Honeycomb tablet. Moreover, it's unclear what the pricing would be if the machine evolves from prototype to market.

The WiFi-only Xoom costs $599, the same as the 4G version Verizon Wireless sells with a two-year data contract. The LG G-slate will cost $529 with a two-year deal from T-Mobile. Samsung will sell its tablets for less than $500 this June.

If Google's Nexus smartphone pricing scheme applies to the tablet, the company will sell it unlocked for the cost of the device, or with a reasonably priced carrier deal.

Google launched the Nexus One smartphone in January 2010, selling the Android 2.1 handset unlocked for $529 or with a two-year contract from T-Mobile for $179.

The device, sold only through a Google-owned and -operated Webstore, carried only software vetted by Google itself. With the Nexus One, Google had taken the carriers out of the equation so that Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps, search and YouTube were included without the usual assortment of carrier applications, also known as "bloatware."

The Nexus One didn't take off the way Google hoped, as consumers shied away from buying a phone sight unseen. Google shuttered its Webstore and began offering the Nexus One as a test unit.

Rather than punt the Nexus line, Google returned last December with the Samsung Nexus S, a smartphone based on the new Android 2.3, or "Gingerbread," OS featuring native near-field communication support. This device is currently offered unlocked for $529 or for $199 with a two-year T-Mobile deal.

Sprint is launching a Samsung Nexus S 4G this spring, providing the third smartphone in the Nexus line.