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Google unveils $250 Android tablet, Apple TV-style sphere

PLUS: A Kiwi developer on the total domination of Kindle Fire | Google's rival to Apple TV 

Thu, 28 Jun 2012

UPDATE: A rep for Google told NBR ONLINE that the Nexus 7 and Q will be available in the US, Canada, Australia and a number of other countries, but not New Zealand.


Google has unveiled a $US199 ($NZ254) tablet at its I/O developer conference in San Francisco.

The Google Nexus 7 will be available mid-July, with Google taking direct orders through Play (formerly Android market). There was no immediate word on international availability.

The Google-branded tablet (built by Taiwan'ts Asustek) features a 7-inch a 1280 x 800 HD display covered in “scratch-resistant Corning glass," a front-facing 1.2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, micro USB, NFC, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of onboad storage, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and run on the new Android 4.1 (aka Jellybean).

16GB model will also be available for $249.

Android 4.1 is also scheduled to appear on new Motorola smartphones mid-July (Google having recently closed its $US12 billion acquisition of Motorola's cellphone division). A lot of Android 4.1's features are aimed at making life easier for software makers, but Google says it also offers a smoother, more responsive interface that Android 4.0.

Google also previewed the Nexus Q ($299), an Apple TV-style device for streaming internet content to a regular television. It's great to see Google getting into this space. But with music, moves and TV programmes on its Play service no available to New Zealanders, it's all a bit irrelevant in our part of the world at this point.

The spherical shape looks cool, if wildly impractical.

As with its Nexus smartphone, Google is seen as not wanting to take over the market, but rather as trying to gee-along hardware makers.

Although it now dominates Apple in smartphones sales, Google's Android platform has yet to reach a tipping point in tablets, worldwide or here (IDC's latest shipment stats have Apple's iPad on 71% and Android on 27%).

I recently spoke to Guy Horrocks, who heads app-maker Carnival Labs. Guy now spends most of his time in New York, reeling in new clients (Carnival specialises in apps used for marketing), while his core team is in Wellington.

Guy related that the iPad is dominant in the US market (no surprises there), not only holding a greater market share, but it's being more active downloaders.

But in terms of the Android segment of the market, the 7-inch Kindle Fire is utterly dominant, Guy said (the Fire being broadly similar to the Nexus 7, and bearing no relation to the Kindles e-book readers sold here. The Fire is closely tied to Amazon's video and music services not available in NZ).

As an example, he said an app recently created for a client had around 50,000 downloads to Kindles Fire tablets, with all other brands and models of Android tablet accounting for around 2000 downloads.

It seems a low-cost, name-brand Android can really hit the spot.

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Google unveils $250 Android tablet, Apple TV-style sphere