Google is preparing to launch an online store to sell its forthcoming Google-branded tablet directly, according to recent reports. The online store would mimic the direct sales method employed by Apple and Amazon to sell their iPad and Kindle Fire tablets, respectively.
The Wall Street Journal cites "people familiar with the matter" who say that the goal of the online store will be to boost sales of Android-based tablets. While Android-based smartphones have stood up well against Apple's iPhone - even passing Apple in market share - Android tablets have not fared nearly as well against the iPad.
Google reportedly has their own Google-branded tablet in the works. In December Eric Schmidt told an Italian newspaper that Google was working on a tablet that would rival the iPad. Late last month sources said that a Google-branded tablet priced and sized to compete with Amazon's Kindle Fire would be going into production in April. Meanwhile, there are rumors that Google is already working on Android 5.0 Jelly Bean, which is reportedly targeted for a mid-year release.
There is little information on when we can expect to see Google's online tablet store, but it's a safe bet it will go live around the same time as Google's tablet launches. The store will not, however, be only for Google's tablet. Other Android tablets will almost certainly be in the store as well.
Even with their own tablet and a store devoted entirely to Android tablets, Google is likely to face an uphill battle. While Android tablets have generally done fairly well, they have never been more than a (very) distant second place behind Apple's iPad. What's more, with Amazon's Kindle Fire continuing to do well and with Windows 8 tablets coming later this year, the competition in the tablet market (or the non-iPad part of it, anyway) is only going to intensify.
What do you think? Can an online store and a Google-branded tablet help Google mount a serious challenge to Apple and the iPad? Let us know in the comments.