Low-cost Google tablet coming: What you need to know

Tablets are becoming incredibly popular among businesses and users, and IT departments will soon have another device to consider supporting: the first Google-branded tablet.

Though Apple’s iPad currently dominates the tablet market with its popularity for both business and personal use, tablets running Google’s Android operating system are the closest competitor.

However, one problem many industry analysts say has hurt Android tablet sales: fragmentation. Releasing many versions of Android tablets from different manufacturers creates confusion among consumers as well as bugs that can arise when running the same OS on inconsistent hardware.

Google hopes to eliminate those issues by developing its own tablet, which is expected to be released this summer.

So what can we can expect from the Google tablet? Here are some answers to the three biggest questions:

1. How much will it cost?

One thing that’s clear now is that Google wants it to be a low-cost gadget. The device, being built in partnership with Asustek Computer, was originally planned to be ready in May, but the release has been delayed until July, The Verge reports. The reason: to lower the price.

Previous reports set the price at $249, but Google has pushed the release back to try and lower manufacturing costs and better compete with lower-priced devices like Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire.

Apple is also rumored to preparing a low-cost version of the iPad with a 7.85-inch screen. That device may compete price-wise with the Kindle Fire and Google’s tablet, analysts say.

2. What will the tablet feature?

While things may change during the re-design, the Google tablet has been reported to include:

  1. a 7-inch screen
  2. a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor
  3. Wi-Fi connectivity only, and
  4. The Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

It’s not clear where Google will cut corners to reach its desired price. Amazon, for example, sells the Kindle Fire with just 8 GB of storage and no camera or microphone — and reportedly, the devices are sold at a loss of a few dollars in order to make money from app and media sales.

3. Where will it be available?

According to reports, Google will sell the tablet through its own online store. That’s how the company originally sold the Google-branded Nexus One smartphone, until that concept flopped and Google started selling the phone through other retailers.

However, analysts say, it will be easier to sell tablets that way, since mobile phone carriers don’t need to be involved.

So what does the upcoming Google tablet mean for IT? That depends on your perspective. For some organizations, it could mean a new device to provide for users at a lower cost than other tablets. However, a possibly diminished feature set and the lack of a cellular data connection could impact the viability of the tablet for some business uses.

In other cases, the new tablet could be yet another popular consumer device that users will soon be asking IT to support.

Will your department consider supporting — or providing — low-cost tablets such as the upcoming Google tablet? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

  • No, simply due to the lack of cellular connectivity.