Google announced on Wednesday its entry into the tablet market with its Nexus-branded device. The $199 Nexus 7 is a tablet featuring a 7” screen, Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, the new Android 4.1 operating system (code named Jelly Bean and available in mid-July), front-facing camera, and NFC (near-field communications) connectivity. The device is being made with hardware partner ASUS and will be released in mid-July with pre-orders currently being taken by Google. The device will have nine hours of battery life, according to the company.
Similar to Microsoft’s announcement of its own tablet last week, Google’s announcement is somewhat out of character for the search giant, though the company did release its own phone (only to pull out of the market later). Google can also be viewed as competing with its partners in the hardware space, not only with the Nexus 7 but also with its recent acquisition of tablet maker Motorola Mobility.However, the limited availability of the Nexus 7 on the Google Play store suggests modest ambitions in the short term.
The introduction of the tablet category brought with it the promise of a new era of devices that would highlight experience, and where software would ultimately define how successful a device would be. With the exception of Apple, few devices had been able to fulfill the idea of devices being defined by the experience, at least not a positive experience. Amazon was able to deliver on that promise and despite press reports of its dwindling success, sell through is solid early on. Google now seems to be heading in that direction with its Nexus 7, as well as the Nexus Q device it also announced on Wednesday. (The Nexus Q is a $299 home media streaming device that like the Nexus 7 highlights media consumption through the Google Play service.)
During the announcement of the tablet at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco, the company spent little time on the hardware specs of the device, focusing on the tight integration of the hardware and the services, namely Google Play. The company didn’t even highlight the 7” 1280 x 800 resolution panel used in the Nexus 7, which at 216 ppi puts it within shouting distance of the 264 ppi panel used in the new iPad in terms of pixel density, as well as providing some differentiation with the 1024 x 600 Kindle Fire. Google executives spent a significant amount of time showing off how Google Play looked and worked on the Nexus 7 tablet. The same can be said for the Nexus Q, which was described as a media sharing and streaming device for home use.