Google’s first foray into the tablet market with a co-branded Android device won't be with us until July at the earliest. The current design was ready to go for May, but Google pushed back the planned release so it could tweak the device, sources close to the project said on Friday.
The Mountain View team plans to make some design changes and hopes to lower the price from the current $249. The tablet, made in partnership with Taiwan’s Asustek Computer, currently comes with a 7-inch screen, an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, and is Wi-Fi-only. It runs Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. The $249 price tag on the current Google-Asustek tablet is higher than previous reports of a $149-$199 device. Amazon’s Kindle Fire, another 7-inch tablet that retails for $199, is the obvious competitor that Google will be taking on in that size and price range.
There are also reports that Apple is planning a smaller tablet with a 7.85-inch screen, called the iPad mini, which Google may be trying to preempt. Some reports have suggested Google wants to delay its tablet until after June so it can install the next version of Android, codenamed Jelly Bean, but that’s unlikely, the sources said. The current product is designed for Android 4.0, and new software could cause a much longer delay. Asustek is working with Google the way the US internet giant partnered with companies on Android Nexus smartphones, to make better phones and to jumpstart the market. Manufacturers say the co-branding was a huge boost, since Google is a household name. The co-branding strategy in Android tablets opens the door for a number of other companies to work with Google in the future, including Samsung Electronics, Acer and others.