Google will launch a new 7-inch tablet this spring, sources say, as the search giant continues its quest to dominate the mobile technology market and compete with rivals like Apple and Amazon.
The company has not publicly stated its intentions to produce a tablet, but analysts at DisplaySearch say the device will boast a 1280 by 800 resolution screen, and run an unmodified, pure version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility will empower the company to begin manufacturing its own hardware, and with plans in the works for a digital home entertainment system, cable service, and several new smartphones, Google is ramping up competition against its rivals in multiple yet connected sectors.
With the Motorola merger, Google gained ownership of three tablets: the 10.1-inch Xoom, the 10.1-inch Xyboard, and the 8.2-inch Xyboard. The new 7-inch tablet is likely meant to go head-to-head with Apple’s iPad tablets and Amazon’s similarly-sized Kindle Fire, to diversify the company’s offerings.
Apple pioneered the tablet market with the iPad and broke sales records with the iPad 2, dominating the tablet market. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company is expected to launch the iPad 3 in March, while Google’s highly anticipated tablet entry will début in April.
However, Apple is reportedly considering producing a smaller, less expensive model to directly compete with the Kindle Fire, so competition in the smaller-screened devices could ramp up.
The Kindle Fire is a runaway success, with over 5 million units sold since the device’s November launch, according to Barclay’s. Tablet computers are increasingly popular, and Google likely wants to capitalize on the growing trend while improving upon current successful models with a higher resolution screens akin to Samsung’s Galaxy 7.7 tablet.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire runs on a modified version of Android, but to date, Google hasn’t offered a branded alternative to compete with the best-selling device.
Google is also looking to beef up its content offerings, as Amazon and Apple’s tablets are both backed by massive media libraries. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is making deals with TV stations and movie studios to create YouTube channels, and rumors say the company is also exploring deals with record labels and streaming services for its digital home music system.
Such deals could further establish a working relationship with the entertainment industry, boosting Google’s content and allowing users easy access and downloads to any Google-branded tablet.
Finally, Google Wallet, the search engine’s mobile payment system, will make that content easy to pay for with the click of a keypad on any linked devices, rounding out the Google ecosystem of products.
A Google tablet dovetails with comments made by chairman Eric Schmidt in December, which touched on plans to market a tablet. However, Schmidt did not clarify if the device would be of Google’s own design, or a co-branded device with a maker like Motorola.
Google is fighting to stay on top of the tech industry, and taking risks to expand in several different directions. A pure Android tablet with high-resolution and great content options could be just the thing to sway consumers away from Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle Fire into Google’s growing ecosystem.