Google has unveiled a new 7-inch tablet, along with the latest iteration of Android, which it’s is calling Jelly Bean in keeping with its dessert theme. The company made the announcements at its three-day Google IO developer conference taking place this week in San Francisco.
The Nexus 7 comes as the result of a partnership with Taiwanese device manufacturer Asus. According to a live webcast of today’s keynote, Google’s new tablet starts at $199 for an 8GB or $249 for a 16GB model. The Nexus 7 features 1GB of RAM, a quad-core Tegra 3 system on a chip, GPS, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Micro USB, as well as NFC.
The Nexus 7 is a media tablet built around the Google Play store, which sells content such as movies, music and apps. A $199 entry-point puts the Nexus 7 squarely in competition with Android’s Kindle Fire tablet, which also starts at a $199 price point. It remains to be seen whether the Nexus 7 will filch market share from only the Fire or from Apple as well.
Research firm IDC recently forecast that the iPad’s total share of the market will grow from 58 percent in 2011 to 63 percent this year. Much of that growth, IDC speculates, will come at the expense of Android tablet, which the research firm will see share slip from 38.7 percent last year to 36.5 percent in 2012.
Industry analyst Jeff Kagan says it’s wait and see on whether the Nexus 7 will take a bit of the Apple, or whether this will simply be a bucket of water on Amazon’s Fire. Either way, he says this a statement device.
“Google see’s this as a huge opportunity and they are not backing off. This is Googles next attempt to successfully break into the tablet space in a big way,” Kagan said in comments via email.
On the OS side of things, Android Jelly Bean (4.1) features major upgrades to the company’s famous Google Maps application, as well as expanded notifications and a revised Search system, which includes Google Now. Google Now provides personalized scheduling, location, map, and other information via a system of searchable “cards
Google also unveiled the Nexus Q, a softball-sized Android-powered computer similar to Apple’s Apple TV and Samsung’s SmartHub devices. Users can wirelessly stream music and video to the Nexus Q, which connects to a TV or stereo for playback.
Following the announcement, Google stock was up almost a percent to $570 per share.