Recently there’s been rumblings that Google will release a 7-inch “Nexus tablet” in the first half of 2012, but many have doubted that Google would actually enter the hardware business. Several people have rightfully pointed out that Google traditionally partners with an OEM on these “Google Experience Devices”, just like they did with Motorola on the Xoom tablet. Read on for the latest rumor surrounding who might produce Google’s 7-inch tablet.
Google has partnered with ASUS to release a 7-inch tablet that will become a pure Google Experience Device. The tablet will retail for $199, include a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, and ship with stock Android 4.x Ice Cream Sandwich.
This rumor comes from two different industry sources that I spoke with in person at Mobile World Congress. They have provided reliable information in the past and I find them to be trustworthy. As with most of these rumor reports, the sources wish to remain anonymous.
One Android Insider’s take on the rumor
Consumers want cheap tablets and the $199 Kindle Fire has proven this. Amazon shipped an estimated 5 million units in Q4 of last year and it quickly became the best selling Android tablet.
The Kindle Fire is a great product, but it lacks all of Google’s mobile services including the Android Market. Some would think that Google would be happy with Amazon’s success, but our sources say that Google sees Amazon as a threat in the tablet market. Amazon replaced Google’s ecosystem with their own, so Amazon earns all the long-tail profits from content and services, while Google gets nothing.
There have already been multiple reports that Google would release a $199 tablet that features a 7-inch 1280×800 resolution display, enters production in April, and ships around June. The main details that have been absent include the OEM partner and the processor type.
ASUS previously announced their $249 MeMo 370T tablet at CES, which included a quad-core Tegra 3 processor. The tablet won several best of show awards and our sources say that Google was so impressed with the device that they approached ASUS to see if they could reduce the bill of materials and reach that magical $199 price point. Barnes & Noble reduced the price of their Nook Tablet from $250 to $199, so why can’t others?
Details about the ASUS MeMo 370T have been scarce, but we believe that product will be very similar to the Google Experience Device that gets released. It sounds likely that ASUS and Google might have reduced the internal storage to bring down the retail price to $199. Potential users would rely on the upcoming Google Drive to store their content online.
Android chief Andy Rubin recently told Nilay Patel of The Verge that he wants to win the tablet race and Google was planning to do something about it. Rubin said, “2012 is going to be the year that we double down and make sure we’re winning in that space… we’re going to do a better job at making people understand what ecosystem they’re buying into.”
Selling a full featured Android tablet with all of Google’s mobile services and a quad-core Tegra 3 processor for only $199 would certainly turn some heads. As crazy as it sounds, a possible 10-inch version might also be in the works with a target price point of $299.
We are still unsure of the final product name, but Google Play is a possible candidate. A slew of recent domain names have been registered by MarkMonitor, which Google regularly uses to buy up URLs.
Our sources were not able to confirm the target release date, but we speculate that it could be rolled out to Google IO attendees on June 27th.
ASUS has a strong relationship with Google and I’ve been extremely impressed with the Transformer Prime, so I think this 7-inch Google Experience Device could sell very well. If Amazon shipped 5 million units of their $199 tablet in one quarter, then I predict that Google could move over 10 million units in the second-half of 2012.
If all this information turns out to be true, how many of you would spend $199 on a 7-inch tablet with a pure Google experience?