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Rumor says Google’s Nexus Tablet on its way with a $149 price tag

by Phil Hornshaw

Apple fans are lined up the world over today to pick up the latest and greatest iPad tabet, but for Android users, there could be an interesting alternative on the horizon.

Rumors have been swirling that Google and Asus are preparing a tablet in Google’s Nexus line of devices for some time. Now, new information from Android and Me claims the tab could be available as soon as May and be priced as low as $149. That would make it one of the cheapest tablets on the market, and well below even the newly-discounted iPad 2, which is now on shelves for $399.

While Google’s Eric Schmidt previously said Google intended to “market a tablet of the highest quality,” as Boy Genius Report notes, that may not mean the most technically capable. Instead, the Android and Me rumor focuses on a cheaper tablet more in line with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, with a 7-inch screen and lacking the Tegra 3 processor that was originally in Asus’ MeMo tablet on which the Nexus was rumored to be based.

The rumor claims that Asus has scrapped the $249 MeMo altogether in favor of the Nexus tab, and with the higher price tag goes a quad-core processor for the tablet. Instead, Android and Me says to expect a dual-core processor (which, to be fair, is what’s available in the iPad 2) and speculates it could be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon rather than Nvidia’s Tegra 3. Android and Me cites an anonymous source it says are high in the Asus supply chain, and that person claims the tablet is “a done deal.”

Without knowing too much of the greater details of Google’s plan, the rumors of a smaller, less technically proficient but cheaper Google tablet are very interesting. Amazon has proven with the Kindle Fire that there’s a low-price tablet market out there that is only just being exploited, and it was with that price tag that Amazon was able to grab the no. 2 sales position behind the iPad in the fourth quarter of 2011. But at the same time, Amazon sold a few million Kindle Fires during the period, while Apple moved 15.4 million iPads in the same period. And Amazon is selling Kindle Fires at a loss with the expectation of selling lots of content to tablet owners through its online retail portal, so one wonders what such a low price tag might cost Google.

Still, it seems the latest thinking on how to fight back against the iPad is to address markets Apple isn’t, and that seems to be working for Amazon. Google could definitely be competitive against Amazon going toe-to-toe with its Android rival, and that might be more successful than attempting to go all David on Apple’s Goliath. That does nothing to address the fact that Apple continues to tower over the rest of the tablet market, though. We’ll have to wait and see how Google’s game plan develops.