Rumours have been persisting for some time that Google is set to launch a Nexus-branded tablet which could be the launch device for Android 5.0 (Jelly Bean).
Google has launched three Nexus-branded smartphones in the last two years, the Nexus One, the Nexus S and most recently the Galaxy Nexus. Now rumours suggest that Google is set to launch a Nexus-branded tablet which will be manufactured by Asus.
At CES in Las Vegas in January, the Taiwanese company unveiled the Asus MeMo 370T, which was a 7in tablet powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core processor which was set to launch with a price tag of just $250 (£160). The company has however reportedly scrapped this device after Google got in touch with the company about producing a Nexus tablet.
The report comes from AndroidandMe which spoke to a senior employee at a supply chain company based in the United States. The source told the website that Google is looking to bring out a device priced under $200 that will retain the 7in form factor but is likely to lose the quad-core Tegra 3 chip in a bid to save money.
We heard back in December from Google's Eric Schmidt that it was working on a "tablet of the highest order" though Google has since been silent on whether or not it is in fact working on a tablet. We've been in touch with Google's representatives in the UK seeking clarification on the matter and are still awaiting a reply.
A 7in Google Nexus tablet has been rumoured for some time now and rather than going head-to-head with the new iPad, it is set to challenge the likes of the Amazon Kindle Fire, which has been selling well in the past few months.
The Kindle Fire, which is on sale in the US only for $199, also runs the Android OS but this has been heavily skinned by Amazon itself and instead of giving you access to the traditional Android Market (or Google Play as it is now called) you only get access to Amazon's Appstore where you can purchase films, books and of course Angry Birds among thousands of other apps.
Amazon's business model is slightly different from most other manufacturers in that they don't make much of a profit (if any) from the hardware itself, relying instead on people purchasing content from its Appstore to make up the revenue shortfall.
While this is also an option for Google, it is unclear what deal it has made with Asus regarding the 7in Nexus tablet. The three Nexus smartphones which have launched have all been aimed at the high-end market, with prices to match.
Google has used the launch of the Nexus smartphones to show off the latest version of Android, with the phones running a pure Android experience rather than it being skinned by the manufacturers' proprietary software on top.
If this was to be the case with the Google Nexus tablet, it could mean we will see the company launch Android 5.0 (codenamed Jelly Bean) in conjunction with the tablet. Reports had previously suggested that Google was unhappy with the roll out of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and had decided to bring forward the launch of Android 5.0 to this summer.
This would tally with reports which suggest that the Asus-made 7in tablet will launch in May or June, with the Android developers conference, called Google I/O, taking place at the end of June a good bet for when the tablet will launch. Another option is the CTIA Wireless show which takes place in New Orleans in the second week of May.
In terms of specs, the only thing that has been confirmed so far is the size of the screen at 7in. However with the Tegra 3 chip binned, we could be looking at a Qualcomm processor powering this tablet as it has a strong relationship with Asus.
With Google looking to keep the cost down, we don't expect to see a very high spec tablet but with the company likely to offset some of the production cost with content purchases from its app store, we should still be seeing a pretty decent tablet.