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Report says Google’s 7-inch tablet held up till June to tweak for lower price

by Phil Hornshaw

Google is planning to release a 7-inch tablet running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but it’s pushing the launch to June 2012 in order to tweak the device and bring down its price tag.

That’s the report from The Verge, which states that Google’s branded tablet, co-created with Asustek, is heading to store shelves this summer to take on Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Citing unnamed sources, the story claims that the tablet currently will run consumers about $249, which is higher than a previously rumored tag of $149-$199. In order to be competitive with the $199 Kindle Fire tab, Google is reworking the design of the device to bring down its costs. The less the tablet costs to make, the less Google can sell it for to consumers.

We previously heard rumors that Google was working on a branded tablet with the hopes of bringing it to market at a pretty low price tag. Originally, the tablet was set to launch in May, but reworking the design will hold it up a month. What The Verge story says won’t hold the tablet back, however, is Android 5.0. Previous reports suggested the new software, which Google is working on this year, believed to be codenamed Jelly Bean and rumored to be designed for tablets the same way Android 3.0 Honeycomb was, would hold up the launch as Google attempts to get it ready for its new tab.

Apparently, that’s not the case, mostly because waiting for Jelly Bean would hold up the tablet significantly as Google engineers continue to work on the software. There’s some speculation that Google wants to release its 7-inch tab ahead of a rumored offering from Apple known as the iPad Mini. Either way, it seems Google isn’t interested in waiting for Jelly Bean before it launches its branded tablet, so the device will reportedly run Android 4.0 ICS instead.

A branded Google tablet could be a big boon for the Android tab market, which has seen plenty of contenders struggling against the iPad and each other, and most have really failed to take off. The one exception, it seems, is the Kindle Fire, which is getting by partially because of its extremely low price, and partially because of Amazon’s content library backing it up. Google has a similar infrastructure that it could put behind its tablet, plus the power of its brand to sell it.

But the last time Google attempted this model, it was with its Google Nexus smartphone, which was a struggle for the search giant to sell online. A tablet should be easier – it’s Wi-Fi only, The Verge reports, which will remove the need for carriers. This summer, it seems, we’ll see if Google has the chops to become a force in the Android tablet market.

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