It's a never a dull moment in the tablet world, especially for those watching on the sidelines as the heavyweights all try to reposition the launches of their new devices for maximum market advantage.
New to the field is Google: Not as a result of its mobile operating system, Android, which finds a home on approximately 39 percent of tablets worldwide, but because the company doesn't actually manufacture or sell a tablet of its very own. And it still won't come July (at the earliest), for Google's ambitious plan to step into the tablet market with its own seven-inch device isn't going to be an independent affair. The company is expected to directly sell a tablet co-created by Asustek Computer.
As for when, exactly, well…
The Verge is reporting that Google's bumping the tablet back to no earlier than a July release — two months past the initial expected May release date for its "Nexus" tablet. The tablet's going back to the shop, presumably to allow Google to somehow shave down the device's manufacturing costs so it can better compete against tablets like Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire.
It remains to be seen which features of Google's tablet might hit the chopping block. Currently, Google's tablet is expected to ship with a quad-core, Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and Wi-Fi-only connectivity. Dropping down to a dual-core chip would at least put the device on comparable footing, core-wise, against the Kindle Fire's 1 Ghz, dual-core TI OMAP 4 chip — which is similar in general performance to Nvidia's Tegra 2 chips (if not a little faster).
While some speculation suggests that Google's just waiting to slap its Android Ice Cream Sandwich successor, Jelly Bean, onto its new tablet, The Verge's unnamed sources rule that one out. The "Nexus" tablet has been built for Android 4.0; rejiggering the tablet to run Jelly Bean at launch would throw a bit more of a delay into the tablet's timeline than a mere two-month pushback.
That said, Google will likely want to get its device on the market before the release of Apple's alleged 7.85-inch iPad, currently rumored to be prototyping its way around Cupertino. That shouldn't be difficult, however: It's doubtful that Apple would want to compete against its new iPad so quickly.
While the iPad enjoys a considerable amount of success (in the form of a 58 percent market share), it's currently limited to playing in the upper echelons of the tablet market. A $200 price point seems to be the general setting for more budget-conscious devices. And Apple, like Google, will likely find just as much difficulty combining top performance with low prices on the bottom half of the tablet market — even worse, if Google's new tablet establishes a good foothold.