Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Google’s Nexus 7 Tablet Finally Revealed

AllThingsD.com

Google today unveiled a new tablet, after months of speculation that the search giant was developing hardware that would compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and, maybe, the iPad.

The Nexus 7, made with hardware partner ASUSTek Computer, is a 7-inch tablet, built for Google Play, and is running the latest version of Google’s Android operating system, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Priced to compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7 costs $199 and is available for preorder today through the Google Play store, with orders shipping in mid July. To sweeten the deal, Google is throwing in a $25 Google Play credit, the “Transformers” movie, some free magazines and a Bourne book.

The tablet boasts a 1280×800 HD display, a Tegra 3 chipset with a quad-core CPU and a 12-core GPU. It has a front-facing camera; is Wi-Fi-, Bluetooth- and NFC-enabled; and claims up to nine hours of battery life with video playback, and up to 300 hours of standby time.

It weighs just 340 grams, Google says, or about three-quarters of a pound.

Earlier today, The Verge reported that images of the Asus-branded Nexus 7 had surfaced in the Google Play app store.

As my AllThingsD colleagues Ina Fried and Bonnie Cha pointed out here, Google had already demonstrated its vision of combination OS-plus-hardware with its Nexus smartphones. And there are currently Android tablets of all shapes and sizes, from bargain-basement to iPad-comparable prices, available on the market.

What has been lacking are compelling, tablet-optimized apps combined with content services that keep it simple, stupid.

Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt first sparked the tablet rumor mill back in December of 2011, when he hinted in an interview with an Italian newspaper that the search giant would bring a tablet to market within six months.

Since then, Microsoft has introduced its own tablet hardware to compete with Android tablets and the market-dominant iPad. While a price point and release date hasn’t been announced, Microsoft has said the Surface for Windows RT will rival ARM-based tablets in terms of price, and should be released around the time Windows 8 hits the market later this year.

Some believe that Microsoft had taken a wise wait-and-see approach to entering the tablet market, while others feel that the software maker’s presentation of two different devices last week was half-baked. (And the silence from Microsoft’s PC-hardware partners has been deafening, aside from this statement from Acer.)

Google, of course, is still reliant on its hardware partners for the distribution of its Android OS, and owes its fast-growing market share to this multiplatform approach.

But with products like Amazon’s Kindle Fire running a barely-there Android OS, it was only a matter of time before Google took control of how its operating system appeared on hardware. The Nexus 7, with its 7-inch form factor and $199 price point, takes more of an aim at the Fire than at the iPad.

In a company letter to investors earlier this year, Google CEO Larry Page quoted co-founder Sergey Brin as saying, “We’ve let a thousand flowers bloom; now we want to put together a coherent bouquet.”

Flowery language aside, what he meant was that the company planned to focus on big bets and core products, rather than spreading itself too thin.

Will Google’s newfound focus on key products — Google Play, Google+, Google Music and Google Drive, to name a few — be the glue that ties it all together to make a killer tablet?

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