Google Preparing Store For Branded Tablets?

Google wants to sell directly to consumers to expand Android tablets’ reach

Google is preparing to launch co-branded Android tablets directly to consumers via an online store in a similar fashion to rivals Apple and Amazon, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The tablet strategy would imitate its Nexus-branded smartphone move in an effort to expand Android’s share of the market and circumvent the current model favoured by mobile partners, sources familiar with the matter said.

Expansion plans

Despite some Android tablets being well-received, they have struggled to compete against Apple’s market leading iPad and have failed to live up to Google’s expectations.

The new store will apparently sell tablets from a variety of manufacturers, including Samsung and Asus. The latter has previously expressed an interest in working with Google when it announced the existence of the next version of Android, Jelly Bean, which is expected to be rolled-out later this year. Google’s tablet operations are likely to be strengthened by the acquisition of Motorola Mobility, who were responsible for the first Honeycomb Android tablet, the Motorola Xoom.

No details were forthcoming about a potential timescale for the project, but rumours about a Google-branded tablet have persisted as the search giant is keen to expand its tablet share and the reach of its services to increase advertising revenue.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt admitted as much last December, when he said the company had plans to release a tablet of “the highest quality” within six months. This would appear to indicate the iPad is the intended target of this push, but reports have also suggested Google is prepared to subsidise the tablet to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which itself is sold at a loss to encourage users to spend more on content.

Three Nexus smartphones have already been released to showcase the features of the Android platform. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus was the most recent of these and was the first smartphone to run version 4.0 of the mobile operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android is expected to erode Apple’s share of the tablet market in 2012, but the iPad is still likely to retain supremacy, according to analysts.

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