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Planned Google tablet to rival Kindle

Taipei - Google will soon unveil a tablet co-branded with Taiwan's Asustek Computer and priced to compete with Amazon's Kindle Fire device, an Asustek executive said on Wednesday.

Amazon's Kindle Fire, which runs a version of Google's Android operating system, sells for $199 (about R1 800). Through it users can access Amazon content including books, music and video.

Senior German politicians have denounced as propaganda a campaign by Google to mobilise public opinion against proposed legislation to let publishers charge search engines for displaying newspaper articles. Credit: Associated Press

“It's targeting Amazon. The Kindle is based on Google's platform but with its own service, so Google has to launch its own service, too,” said the executive of the device.

Google has its own store for apps called Google Play, but does not have anything like Amazon's service.

Bloomberg earlier reported that Google would launch a tablet at its developer conference this week, taking direct aim at Apple's iPad, citing two people familiar with the matter. One of the sources said the 7-inch tablet would showcase new features of Android.

The Asustek executive, who did not want to be named as the planned device has not yet been made public, declined to give details on its price, specifications or launch timetable. Rumours that the search engine giant planned to launch a tablet at its annual developer conference have circulated on tech blogs for weeks.

Google declined to comment.

Apple's iPad had a 68 percent share of the market in January-March, according to data from IDC. Amazon had a little over four percent, lagging Samsung Electronics and Lenovo. Microsoft last week introduced its own line of tablet computers, marking a major strategic shift for the software giant as it struggles to compete with Apple and re-invent its aging Windows franchise.

Google has previously worked with hardware manufacturers HTC and Samsung to produce co-branded Android mobile phones under the Nexus brand. This would be its first such tablet device.

Asustek shares gained 2.6 percent in Taipei, outperforming a 0.6 percent gain on the benchmark stock index. - Reuters

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