Earlier in the week, there was talk that Google may have solicited Android hardware-maker Asus to develop its next Google experience Nexus-branded tablet, much in the same way that the Android software-maker has asked HTC and Samsung in the past to build Nexus smartphones. Now, according to a new leak from DigiTimes publication, we’re hearing that the 7-inch Nexus-branded slate may arrive as early as May for the price tag of $199-$249.
Given that Google’s I/O developer conference is scheduled for June, the tablet may make a formal appearance and be announced at that event. Google and Asus have so far been quiet about the venture and offered no comments.
Interestingly, the project was turned down by several other Android hardware-makers before Asus had accepted the proposal from Google to build the hardware. HTC had been solicited to help build the tablet, but the Taiwan hardware-maker did not want to build a low-cost model and damage its brand. HTC did release a 7-inch tablet in the form of the HTC Flyer, which debuted at $500 for the WiFi-only model when that device first launched.
Acer was also being considered by Google, but ultimately Google did not select Acer as the company did not have an internal research and development capability, the publication reported. Asus was ultimately selected in the end.
A low-priced $249 or under would help Google make in-roads in the tablet space. The success of the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet at that price point shows that there is keen interest for a portable tablet at an affordable price to compete against the industry leading iPad slate. However, with Nook and Kindle, those tablets had eschewed Google’s ecosystem for digital content and media delivery, though the slates are based on a heavily skinned version of the Android OS. Nook taps into Barnes & Noble’s store for apps, magazines, and e-book purchases, and Amazon hosts videos, TV shows, apps, magazines, books, and music through its digital storefront, side-stepping Google’s recently re-branded Google Play Store for Android.
A Google-made sub-$249 tablet may drive Android tablet prices down even further. It’s unclear how other Android manufacturers like Samsung will react to pricing.