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Google unveils larger Nexus tablet

30 October 2012, 14:35

San Francisco - Google is cramming a few more gadgets on to already crowded holiday shopping lists.

The devices announced on Monday include the latest in Google's line of Nexus smartphones and a larger version of the 17.8cm Nexus 7 tablet, which the company began selling in July. It's also adding cellular capabilities to the Nexus 7 and doubling the capacity of existing models.

The Nexus 4 smartphone is being made by LG Electronics and features a minor update to Google's Android operating system, which now powers more than 500 million devices worldwide. A more comprehensive makeover, known as Key Lime Pie, is expected next year. The version of Android affected by these changes is known as Jelly Bean.

The larger Nexus tablet is being made by Samsung Electronics and features a display screen that measures about 25.4cm diagonally, about the same size as Apple's iPad.

With these additions to its product line-up, Google joins a procession of companies selling a gamut of sleek and powerful computing devices in different shapes and sizes.


Some are smartphones and others are tablet computers, but they all aim to cater to people's growing interest to have easily portable devices that can be used to connect to the internet, take pictures, watch video, play games and read books, magazines and newspapers.

Google's Nexus devices will be competing with gadgets from such companies as Apple, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Samsung and Microsoft. Microsoft released a new tablet called Surface last week and launched new software for phones on Monday.

The array of phones and tablets hitting the market underscores how much mobile computing is shaking up the technology industry. The shift has undercut sales of desktop and laptop computers, decreasing the amount of revenue that Microsoft gets from licensing Windows and hurting companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell that make the machines.

Although Android has ensured that Google's search engine and other services play a prominent role in mobile computing, Google also is experiencing some short-term pain because the advertising rates on phones and tablets so far haven't been as high as the prices on desktops and laptops. Advertising accounts for most of Google's revenue.

Google's introduction of a larger tablet comes less than a week after Apple announced it's making a smaller, less expensive iPad, with a 20cm display, to compete with the Nexus 7 and Amazon.com's Kindle Fire. The iPad Mini will be available in stores on Friday.

Some analysts have questioned whether consumers will balk at the iPad Mini's $329 price for a device with 16GB of storage. Google is widening the price difference between the iPad Mini and its smaller tablet by cutting $50 off the price of a comparable, 16GB Nexus 7, to $199.

The 8GB version, which had sold for $199, will be discontinued. A Nexus 7 with 32GB of storage is being introduced for $249 in an apparent effort to discourage even more people from buying the iPad Mini. The cheapest Nexus 7 is still pricier than the Kindle Fire, which starts at $159 for a no-frills model.


The Nexus 7 tablets will continue to be sold at Google's Play store online as well as such retailers as GameStop, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples and Walmart.

Analysts estimate Google has sold several million Nexus 7 tablets so far. Google declined to disclose how many units have shipped. The tablet "has been an amazing success", said Hugo Barra, Android's director of product management. "We had to work extra hard to meet demand."

Nexus 7 owners have been buying and looking at so much content on the tablet that Google decided to create a larger version with Samsung, Barra said. The Nexus 7 is made by AsusTek Computer.

The Nexus 10 tablet with 16GB of storage will sell for $399. That's $100 less than the comparable version of the latest iPad, though the older iPad 2 is still available at that price. The Nexus 10 goes on sale in Google's online store on 13 November.

Both the Nexus 10 and the new Nexus 7 models will allow multiple users to create separate personal profiles on the devices by using different account names and passwords.

The Nexus 4 phone boasts a 12cm screen, larger than Apple's recently released iPhone 5 and just slightly smaller than Samsung's flagship phone, the Galaxy S III. A 16GB model of the Nexus 4 will sell for $199 with a two-year contract to buy phone service and internet access from T-Mobile.

A contract-free version is available for $299 with 8GB of storage and $349 for the 16GB model. Google is touting the Nexus 4's wireless charging capability as a major selling point.


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