It's been a long time coming, but the word has officially landed from Google (News - Alert) today as they showed off the first Google-branded tablet during its I/O conference. Dubbed the Nexus 7, it's expected to ship in mid-July although interested users will be able to order them starting soon via the Google Play market at around $199.
The Nexus 7 is a seven inch tablet that includes its own content ecosystem including magazines, books and movies that are both easy to find and easy to gain access to striking stark similarities to Kindle Fire from Amazon. But the Nexus 7 has a few advantages over the Kindle Fire, as it's lighter weighing in at only 12 ounces compared to the Kindle Fire's 14 and offers better graphics by way of a richer HD screen and an improved graphics chipset. It's clearly geared to compete with the Kindle Fire which runs Google's Android (News - Alert) operating system and is more a competitor to Google than a friend to it as the version of Android that Amazon runs is so specifically customized that it actually cuts Google out of much of the loop. The Kindle Fire also keeps users moving away from Google's app services and puts them more toward Amazon's own app offerings.
Google, meanwhile, has plenty of other problems. The tablet market has not been good overall for anything that's not Apple and since Apple recently won an injunction against Samsung's (News - Alert) Galaxy Tab in the United States, it's only hurt Google all the more. Specific apps for Android tablets are so few in number that Google doesn't even publish the numbers, while iPad-specific apps measure nearly a quarter million strong.
With Google however activating nearly a million Android devices a day, it has begun to take more of its cues from the Kindle Fire, as evidenced by the Nexus 7. The Kindle Fire has clearly demonstrated that people like the idea of a small tablet that's also inexpensive and offers up a whole lot of content, as it is selling big numbers in an environment where any tablet not from Apple (News - Alert) just isn't doing so well in the market. Google, meanwhile, is looking to put a lot more power into tablets like the Nexus 7 than even Apple may have thought possible; the revelation of Google's new Jelly Bean version of Android shows a powerful new level of voice control as its allow typing to be done with voice input when the phone is offline.
Google even managed to show off their virtual-reality glasses as part of a wild, stunt-packed extravaganza which brought blimps, stunt BMX, and rappelling down the side of the Moscone Center in San Francisco to a standing room only crowd.
Google has its work cut out for it, make no mistake. Apple owns the large tablet market and is leaving everyone else to merely compete for second place. With reports still in the offing about an iPad Mini, even the small tablet market is not safe. But if Google can get its alternative in there and show off the advantages of a tablet powered by Jelly Bean at an inexpensive price, they may well manage to seize a large swath of the small tablet market before Apple can even get in play. That's a development that would no doubt be very welcome for Google, not to mention for consumers
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Edited by Jamie Epstein