Mountain View is reportedly partnering with Asus to manufacture a 7-inch Google-branded tablet that could hit store shelves by May 2012.
According to DigiTimes, the tablet is slated to be priced at a very competitive $199-$249. If the reports are true, the Google-Asus tablet would likely pose somewhat of a threat to Amazon’s wildly popular Kindle Fire tablet.
Then again, Amazon is also rumored to be working on a Kindle Fire refresh, with new display sizes and improved hardware - all of which could help deflect attention away from Google’s new tablet when it hits the hyper-competitive tablet market.
Interestingly enough, Google apparently approached a number of manufacturers about co-designing a tablet. However, Mountain View’s offer was reportedly rejected by HTC as the company was "unwilling to develop a low-price model to impair its brand image," while Acer lacked in-house R&D capabilities.
As such, Google eventually settled on Asus due to the corporation’s "ODM capability and good product quality. Of course, Asus also has its own reasons for working with Google, namely to learn how to "develop software/ content" and attempting to become a major player in the US tablet market.
Frankly, I’m unsure as to how Google plans on delivering a "tablet of the highest quality" at a price point of $199-$249. Yes, it might be able to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and B&N’s Nook, but the hardware specs certainly won’t be come close to what Apple is offering with its highly anticipated iPad 3.
Somehow, I don’t think either Apple or Amazon are all that worried about Google’s tablet. Yes, it will probably claim some market share, but is unlikely capable of unseating Amazon’s Kindle Fire anytime soon.