updated 11:20 pm EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Google 7in tablet once more linked to ASUS
Google's rumored Nexus-like Android tablet has once more been attached to ASUS by a leak late Thursday. The seven-inch tablet was now thought by Digitimes' contacts to be coming as soon as May for between $199 to $249. ASUS had been picked because it could manufacture the devices itself and had "good product quality."
The project had been shopped around to other Taiwanese companies at the end of last year, according to the claims. Acer was ruled out as lacking internal research. HTC supposedly didn't want to tarnish its image with a cheap tablet, and was also insistent on controlling development instead of letting Google steer the project like it often does.
ASUS would have its own motives, but they were more benign, according to the tips. Getting Google's trust would help it learn how to develop both Android hardware and software as well as make further inroads with the US than it has with the Eee Pad Transformer and Transformer Prime.
Details were scant for the tablet itself beyond the screen. It would supposedly be the first with the Google Play Store preloaded, although the unified Android Market sequel doesn't need any special support to work. Many have suspected it may be very close to the Eee Pad MeMo 370T, a device that would carry a quad-core Tegra 3, 1GB of RAM, and other features of high-end tablets in a small size.
Given the timing and the officially sanctioned nature, the tablet if real would be most likely to show at Google I/O in June. The developer conference is sometimes the venue for reference Android hardware.
Reasons for the tablet, which might get the Nexus branding, would likely be more than just to create a reference tablet equivalent to the Galaxy Nexus. Its price would put it in direct competition with the Kindle Fire and possibly try to undermine Amazon. The Kindle Fire has effectively forked Android into a separate path and could undermine regular Android services. Having a completely stock but high-profile Android tablet at the same price could let Google take back control as well as try to undercut a twice as expensive iPad.