Google is set to launch a smaller, cheaper Android rival to Apple’s iPad as early as May.
Made in partnership with tablet-maker Asus, Google’s tablet could sell for as little as $200, and will have a seven-inch screen, according to a leak reported in Digitimes.
Google’s tablet would be a competitor to Amazon’s Kindle Fire – and like Fire, would be built to sell content such as video and music via Google’s own online store.
Google recently rebranded its Android Marketplace as Google Play, streamlining services such as its video store, e-book store and app marketplace, so the timing would make sense.
The company already offers similar Google-branded smartphones, made in collaboration with Samsung.
Leaks from hi-tech suppliers in the Far East had already hinted that a small, cheap Android “entertainment tablet” might be released in the first half of this year.
In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt reportedly said: “In the next six months, we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality.”
Apple is rumored to be working on an “iPad Mini” with a similar form factor, according to analyst reports, which could appear in the third quarter this year.
Digitimes also reports that Google spoke to other tablet companies such as HTC before deciding on Asus.
Asus makes the hit EEE Pad Transformer, one of the most distinctive Android devices, and was showing off a seven-inch tablet at CES.
“Asustek’s motivation for cooperating with Google is to win Google’s confidence to facilitate development of its Android-based devices, learn Google’s technology to develop software and content, as well as enter the tablet US market,” said Digitimes.