San Francisco - Google took the wraps off its first tablet computer on Wednesday, looking to replicate its smartphone success in the tablet market despite tough competition from Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.
The “Nexus 7” tablet, built by and co-branded with Taiwan's Asus, will begin selling for as low as $199 on the Google Play website and apps store from around mid-July.
At seven inches and $199, the device takes aim initially at the Kindle model, which analysts consider a window into Amazon.com's trove of online content.
Google can similarly use the Nexus 7 - unveiled at its annual developer conference in San Francisco - to connect to its own online offerings, which include video service YouTube and Google Play. It will go after more cost-conscious users who might shun the loftier price tag of $499 and above on Apple's iPad.
“That range of services will be the secret to stitching together this rag-tag fleet of Android gadgets into a platform that can compete with Apple for minutes of users' attention rather than premium device dollars,” said Forrester analyst James McQuivey.
Shares in Google gained 0.8 percent to $569.37 in afternoon trade.
The Nexus will feature the new 4.1 “Jelly Bean” version of Google's software, as well as a front-facing camera, a 1280x800 resolution screen, and a Nvidia Tegra 3 processor.
Google's Android software is the No. 1 operating system for smartphones, but has struggled to compete with Apple's iPad in the market for tablets.
Executives showcased the new 4.1 “Jelly Bean” version of Android operating system at the event in San Francisco. The new software delivers faster performance, according to the company, and new features such as “voice search”.
The Internet search leader said that one million devices using its Android mobile software are being activated every day.
Google briefly sold a specially designed Android smartphone - the Nexus One - directly to consumers in 2010, but closed the online store after four months saying it had not lived up to expectations. - Reuters