WSJ: Google to Enter the Tablet Market This Year

Let’s be honest. As it stands, the iPad completely dominates the tablet market, largely because it lacks any true competition. Research in Motion’s launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook was rather unsuccessful, while Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 has failed to grasp a considerable share of the tablet market. So, what’s next?

Samsung is rumored to be working on a Windows 8 Slate for release in late 2012, while Hewlett-Packard could return to making webOS-based tablets in 2013; having said that, those tablets don’t sound as if they will be a threat to the iPad, especially when you look at what happened to the last webOS-powered tablet.

The only tablet that could be even remotely considered as competition to the iPad is Amazon’s Kindle Fire, but that is a low-priced tablet that fills an entirely different niche. Things might not be so easy for Apple in the near future, however, as Google has plans to get into the tablet business itself before the year is out.

According to sources for the Wall Street Journal, Google is currently developing an online store in which it will sell Android tablets. The search engine company won’t be creating the hardware itself, but instead will be selling Android-based tablets designed by its manufacturing partners Samsung and ASUS.

The launch date of this Google tablet store is unknown, but “people familiar with the matter” have suggested that it could launch sometime midyear to coincide with the launch of the latest version of Android, named Jelly Bean in alphabetic fashion.

It has also been speculated that Google has been considering subsidized pricing to attract consumers, meaning that the Android-powered tablets could be offered at more competitive prices that undercut the iPad and compete better with the Kindle Fire’s $199 price tag.

Google will eventually manufacture its own lineup of tablets after its acquisition of Motorola Mobility is finalized worldwide. Motorola currently has its own tablet offering in the Xoom and Xoom 2, and the search engine has plans to add these tablets to the company’s tablet store sometime after it launches.

[WSJ via Gizmodo]

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