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March 9, 2012

Google & Asus teaming to launch a low cost tablet; Potential Jelly Bean device

It appears the close relationship between Asus and Google, as touted by Benson Lin, Corporate VP at Asus, has just gone closer. According to Digitimes, Google is working with Asus to develop a new 7 inch tablet which could be launched as early as May this year.

This nicely ties in with rumours of Q2 2012 launch of Jelly Bean and Asus' assertion that they will be among the first to release Jelly Bean on their devices. Though, according to Slashgear, the device will have ICS — in which case one can expect a quick upgrade to Jelly Bean very soon after launching.

Rumoured device
The device is rumoured to be a low cost device targeting iPad and, more importantly, other rivals like Kindle Fire with a price tag of US$199-$249. Google has no control over Amazon, even though Amazon is using a derivative of Android, and in a short period has become the largest Android tablet maker, even though it may be more appropriate to call Kindle Fire an Amazon device rather than a tablet.

The device is also expected to have a 7 inch screen with a high resolution of 1280X800, higher than other low cost tablets.

The new device could also be the first to have the new unified gaming platform, which Google is developing on the lines of the recently launched Play which consolidated content across apps, music, video and books.

It could also be among the first device to get the new Jelly Bean updated.

Why Google choose Asus
According to the sources, Google began looking at Taiwanese co-partners to build a new tablet in end 2011. Presumably Google didn't want Motorola, to avoid sending a negative signal to other device manufacturers, who are already silently worried about Google-Motorola relationship.

Other Android device makers like HTC wanted more control and were also not willing for a low cost device due to the potential damage to their brands.

While Asus lacked in-house research and design capabilities, it was still selected as it was willing to play a second fiddle to Google, allowing it complete freedom in the design process. Acer is believed to be looking at this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Android platform while also making inroads in the US market. 

Asus had sold 1.8 million tablets in 2011 and has projected minimum sales of 3.0 million tablets in 2012. But the company has set a very stiff internal target of 6.0 million units, more than triple the current sales level, which will see it overtake Samsung. It is with this in mind, that Asus seems to be going after a low cost device, when HTC seems to have clearly rejected it.

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