It looks like Asus may be the manufacturing partner for the upcoming Google-branded tablet. Recent rumors suggest that the 7-inch tablet will be released in May, and will be priced around $199. At that size and price point, the device will be a direct competitor to Amazon's popular Kindle Fire tablet, which released last year.
Citing "industry sources," DigiTimes reports that Google approached HTC (who produced the original Nexus Android phones) about the project. The deal reportedly fell through because HTC insisted on having too much control over the development of the device.
Rumors of a Google-branded tablet have been around for several months, ever since Eric Schmidt confirmed in an interview that such a device was in the works. Though a spate of domain name purchases led to speculation that the new tablet would be called the Google Play, that name turned out to be for Google's new unified music, ebook, and app market, wich was announced last week..
Name confusion notwithstanding, a recent report seemed to confirm that Google had a 7-inch tablet in the works that would be launching sometime in the first half of 2012 (in keeping with Eric Schmidt's timeline). What's more, Asus corporate VP Benson Lin cited his company's close relationship with Google to suggest that Asus devices would be among the first to offer upgrades to the next version of the Android operating system: Android 5.0 Jelly Bean. Given the rumored timeline for the Jelly Bean launch and the rumored timeline for the launch of Google's tablet, it's a fair bet that this new tablet will ship with Android 5.0.
Of course, things are still at the speculation phase at this point. Apart from Eric Schmidt's statement last year, Google has refrained from commenting on the issue.
What do you think? Do you like the idea of a Google-branded tablet? Let us know in the comments.