Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Google Inc. on Wednesday is expected to unveil a new tablet powered by its Android operating system as it looks to boost Android’s lead over Apple Inc.’s iPad in terms of market share for tablets.
Several retailers that are expected to carry the Android tablet, the second generation of the 7-inch Nexus 7, released details about its components and specifications before Wednesday’s expected announcement in San Francisco.
The Nexus device, designed by Google in partnership with an Asian hardware manufacturer, is powered by an updated version of Android, which also is the No. 1 software for smartphones.
The company is currently at work on a major update of Android software that is expected to be unveiled sometime later this year. Nearly a billion Android devices have been activated since 2008, the company has said, allowing Google to ensure that its revenue-generating services such as Google Search have a guaranteed spot on people’s mobile devices.
The new tablet, which is expected to be available for sale at Best Buy Co., Wal-Mart Inc.’s Sam’s Club, and PC Connection Inc. next week, costs $229 with 16 gigabytes of storage and $269 for 32 gigabytes, according to information on Best Buy’s website that was later removed.
That compares to $329 for the 16-gigabyte iPad mini, an 8-inch tablet, and $429 for the 32-gigabyte version.

According to the Best Buy site, the Nexus 7 has a high-definition display that is more advanced than that of the iPad, but its 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor is less advanced than some Android enthusiasts had expected.
Google’s support for the Nexus tablet serves several purposes, including the need to compete with Amazon Inc.’s $159 Kindle Fire tablet, a formidable threat to Google. Unlike the majority of Android devices, Amazon’s tablet uses a separate version of Android that doesn’t come with Google services preinstalled. (Android is a free, open-sourced software, so it is available to anyone.)

Google also is expected to sell the Nexus 7 device directly to consumers through its Google Play online store, just as it did for the first generation of the device. The Nexus 7, which is built by Taiwan-based Asustek Computer Inc. in close collaboration with Google’s Android unit, became the most successful device in the history of the Nexus program—at one point selling at a rate of about one million devices per month—after being launched last year. Typically, Nexus devices cater to hardcore fans of Android and are meant to show hardware makers what they can do with the Android operating system, but aren’t meant to be big sellers.
Still, Asus-made tablets still were a distant No. 4 behind Apple, Samsung Electronics Co. and Amazon in terms of shipments during the critical fourth quarter of last year, according to research firm IDC.
The Nexus 7 succeeded in part because it was the most advanced Android-powered tablet on the market at the time and thanks to its low $199 price tag and significant marketing push by Google, which some analysts believe subsidized the device so that it cost the same as Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet at the time.
Amazon has yet to release the next version of the Kindle Fire, which is expected to be available before the fourth-quarter shopping season.
Unlike Apple, which generates hefty profit from the sale of hardware, Google and Amazon play a different game. Google, which does get an undisclosed cut of Nexus 7 sales, simply wants as many Android-powered devices in the market because they are preloaded with revenue-generating services such as YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps. Amazon’s bet is that customers will use its tablet to shop for products and digital media that is sold by Amazon.
For Google, increased sales of Android tablets can help its financial results in the short term, as prices for online ads viewed on tablets are higher than for ads viewed on smartphones and nearly in line with ads viewed on PCs. The rise of smartphones has weighed on Google’s revenue growth in recent quarters.
Apple, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that it sold fewer iPads during the second quarter of this year versus last year, amid what CEO Tim Cook described as “channel inventory churn” and the fact that it had been a year since the last iPad release.
Overall, tablet shipments this year are expected to reach 230 million worldwide, up 58% from 144.5 million, according to IDC. Such sales would mean tablet shipments would exceed those of laptops, the firm said.
During the first quarter of this year, Android tablets grabbed 56% of the market, up from 41% during the same period last year. Apple, meanwhile, saw its share drop to 39% during the first quarter of this year from 57% in 2012.
Microsoft’s Windows tablets took 5% of the tablet market during the first quarter, up from 1% a year earlier. The company last week took a $900 million write-down due to disappointing Windows tablet sales.

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