Upcoming Google tablet takes aim at Kindle Fire: report

A Google tablet is on the way. But it is aimed at the Kindle Fire or the iPad?

A Google logo is reflected on a Street View car in Riga, Latvia. Google is poised to release a tablet in 2012.

Back in December, Google exec Eric Schmidt announced that Google was close to releasing its own tablet computer – possibly a tablet branded with the Nexus moniker. "In the next six months we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality," told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sea, according to the UK Telegraph. That announcement meshed well with a long-simmering rumor: That Google and LG had partnered to build a tablet. 

At the time, the assumption was that Google would be going after the corner of the market currently dominated by the Apple iPad (in other words, high-end). But now DigiTimes, a Taiwanese tech site, is alleging that Google could instead be gunning for the Kindle Fire, the budget tablet released last fall by Amazon

Citing anonymous sources from "Google's upstream supply chain," DigiTimes speculated that a Google tablet – armed with Android 4.0 software – will hit in either March or April. The price? Less than 200 bucks, so as better to compete with Amazon. (The Kindle Fire retails for $199, meaning, as we noted recently, that Amazon actually loses money on every Kindle Fire it builds.)

So is the scuttlebutt for real? Well, typical caveats apply: Google is remaining mum, and although DigiTimes is well sourced, the site has been wrong before. That said, many tech bloggers seem willing to believe the DigiTimes report, if only because Google – long a holdout in the tablet game – seems well-poised to introduce a Kindle Fire (or iPad) competitor. 

Over at PC World, Daniel Ionescu breaks down the possible routes for a Google tablet. 

"The tablet market represents a slightly different challenge for Google than the smartphone market, where Android has already won (in sales)," Ionescu writes. "Google can either pursue Apple’s model to produce high-end tablets, where the biggest profits are, or it could pursue the media tablet market, where Amazon is taking a loss on the hardware and hopes to profit from sales from its content ecosystem, including movies, music, books and apps."

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