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Back in December, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Chairman Eric Schmidt told an Italian newspaper that the search giant was planning on marketing a tablet of the "highest quality" to step up the "brutal competition" with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) . So these rumblings aren't your standard fare of rumors and speculation spawned from questionable sources within the mobile supply chain -- this comes straight from the horse's mouth.
Me and Big G
The real mysteries are who would build the device and when it would see the light of day. Well, popular Android OEM Asus has stepped up and confirmed to Android Authority that it has partnered with Big G on the device, which is due out by the end of June. That time frame points directly to the company's Google I/O developer conference, which takes place from June 27 to June 29.
At the recent Computex Taipei trade show, an anonymous Asus representative confirmed the partnership but didn't give any other specifics, although a quad-core NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) Tegra 3 is expected to be found lurking inside powering the device.
It's thought to boast a 7-inch display and is being casually referred to as the "Nexus 7," with a price point in the range of $150 to $200, which notably and expectedly puts it head-to-head with Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) own Android-running Kindle Fire. Amazon's 7-inch $199 tablet is the only Android tablet that's performing well, although that's not really good news for Google, since Amazon effectively hijacked Android and ran away with it.
Some press mockups have even been leaked, and the device unsurprisingly takes design cues from various Apple iDevices -- if they turn out accurate, that is.
Android's next major iteration looks to follow its dessert nomenclature with "Jelly Bean," and we should expect to get more details on it after Apple's own Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, that takes place this week.
What took you so long?
It's about time Google came out with a Nexus tablet to rally the troops. Big G's response this time would actually be slightly faster than how long it took for Google to officially step into the smartphone ring with a Nexus-branded device the first time around, relative to Apple's first move. The T-Mobile G1 was the first Android device ever, while the Nexus One was the first of Google's own branded family.
Time Lag to Apple
|Apple iPhone||June 2007|
|T-Mobile G1||September 2008||16 months|
|Google Nexus One||January 2010||31 months|
|Apple iPad||April 2010|
|Google Nexus Tablet||June 2012 (estimated)||26 months (estimated)|
In all likelihood, the Nexus Tablet won't actually be launched this month but rather unveiled for a future launch. If it takes too long, it might even run up directly against Amazon's own expected Kindle Fire 2 that could see an introduction around September if Amazon follows the annual cadence that's become the industry norm.
Still, Google should have been faster with coming out with a Nexus Tablet. Heck, barely six months after the iPad's launch, fellow Fool Tim Beyers proclaimed that Google needed one because it was plainly obvious that current offerings at the time just weren't stacking up very well against the category-defining iPad, a standard that still holds true to this day.
Tablet pressure is on as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) is putting the finishing touches on Windows 8 and already has a stable of partners lined up for launch devices, including traditional PCs and tablets. Google has been particularly inept in the tablet arena, so it won't take much for Mr. Softy to swoop in and eat its lunch.
The tablet market is shaking out very differently from the smartphone market, despite the obvious similarities. It's reminiscent of the iPod and the music-player market that Apple defined and continues to dominate a decade later. Competition is more intense now, and Google has a tall order to fill to get its tablet game back up to par as Amazon and Microsoft similarly step up to the challenge of taking a shot at Cupertino.
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