updated 10:15 pm EST, Wed January 4, 2012
Google 'Nexus' tablet may be seven-inch
A contentious rumor late Wednesday had Google's self-made tablet focusing on a very different segment of the market. Part suppliers alleged to Digitimes that the Android 4.0 device would compete with the Kindle Fire, not the iPad. Accordingly, they suspected it would have a seven-inch screen but cost $199 or less when it shipped in March or April.
When asked, Google Taiwan said it hadn't heard of such a strategy, although this didn't equate to a direct denial.
Numerous issues exist with the rumor. Android 4.0 can run on hardware similar to the Kindle Fire, but Google usually opts for above-average components and would contradict its own statements. If chairman Eric Schmidt's remarks are to be believed, Google would want a device with the "highest quality." At $199, Amazon is already selling at a loss and would mean Google was either using even cheaper parts or subsidizing its hardware.
The timing wouldn't quite line up with Google's own hardware habits. It regularly gives away new hardware to those who have the chance to attend Google I/O, which this year has been moved to June. Schmidt had said the tablet would arrive within half a year, or closer to the Google I/O window.
Even if the specific rumor is false, a Google tablet is seen as increasingly probable given circumstances. The pressure to have a new device at Google I/O may be part of the equation. More likely, though, is the more established nature of Android tablets and their gradual move away from completely stock Android to their own customizations. Google has almost always wanted at least one reference Android device and may want a tablet counterpart to the Galaxy Nexus.
Targeting the Kindle Fire could even raise the possibility of jealousy at Google. Amazon's ability to create a popular but almost completely distinct variant of Android could create a permanent fork in Android that sees developers having to separately support Amazon and everyone else.