Books & Review
Updated: Oct 19, 2012 11:30 AM EDT

Nexus 7

Nexus 7
(Photo : Reuters)

Google's Nexus 7 tablet is the bestselling Android tablet ever, according to the Telegraph; so, it should come as no surprise the company is widely expected to be readying a $99 version of the popular device for release by the end of 2012.

$99 Nexus 7

While Digitimes had previously reported the $99 version of the Nexus 7 would be called the Nexus 7 and would be developed in partnership with Asus, its sources seem to indicate now that neither of those are claims are true.

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The latest rumors indicate that Google could be deviating from its relationship with ASUS in order to release an even cheaper $99 version of its hugely popular Nexus 7 tablet.Google is scheduled to unveil a Nexus tablet model for $99 in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Digitimes, citing Taiwan-based supply chain makers.

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"The US$99 Nexus tablet is equipped with an ARM-architecture single-core processor 8950 developed by China-based WonderMedia Technologies, and a HUVA TN panel made by Taiwan-based HannStar Display, the sources said. The tablet will be produced by Taiwan-based Quanta Computer," said Digitimes

Richard Shim, an analyst at NPD DisplaySearch, confirmed that Google will start production on a $99 tablet in December.

If these reports and spec are accurate, a $99 Nexus 7 would likely be the most serious threat to Apple's iPad Mini, which will be unveiled during a press conference on Oct. 23.

The Verge is skeptical about the $99 Nexus 7's purported specs, and notes that it is unlikely Google would partner with a company on a device powered by anything other than popular chip manufacturers' products, such as Qualcomm, NVIDIA, etc.

From a marketing standpoint, the pricing of Google's new tablet is a savvy move. Like Amazon with its Kindle Fire, Google is sacrificing profits to get hardware in people's hands so they can make money on digital content sales. A smart tactic few other companies can take advantage of.

Although, not everyone is so confident Google should be racing to release a cheaper version of its hugely popular Nexus 7 tablet just to compete with Apple's soon to come iPad Mini, and Amazon's Kindle Fire. "In order to make a profit on hardware that cheap, corners have to be cut in all the wrong places: processor, display, materials, storage, memory, etc," alleges tech site PhoneDog.

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"Look at the Nexus 7, for example. It's a great tablet, especially for only $200. But say ASUS and Google decided to skimp on the Tegra 3 processor in favor of manufacturing costs. Let's say they went with a processor just one-year-old, like the Tegra 2. And instead of the 1,280 by 800 pixel display, let's say they went with WVGA. And assume they offered a micro SD card slot with only 2GB of built-in storage instead of 8GB as the bottom tier device. Tiny changes such as these greatly impact the end product."

"Not to mention, the components would still likely surpass $100," added PhoneDog.

"And when you factor in manufacturing, labor, packaging, assembly and other pieces of the puzzle, the $99 price point seems less and less likely. It's still possible, though, but not without tarnishing the Nexus brand. It would almost certainly use lousy, cheap or outdated components at the sacrifice of everything Google and the Android development team have been working towards: polish, a buttery smooth experience and quality."

32GB Nexus 7

Reports of a cheaper Nexus 7 come as news breaks of Google possibly planning to release a 32GB Nexus 7 in the U.K. and U.S. before Christmas, according to a retailer's ad.

TeckComesFirst reports that a U.K retailer, Argos, has advertised a 32GB version of the Nexus 7 in its holiday gift guide. The snippet from the purported holiday gift guide shows a 32GB ASUS-made Nexus 7 priced at £199.99 (about $323).

"In the US, several leaks have already suggested that the 32GB device will be available for around $250," reports ZDNet. "One US Staples Advantage promo was spotted by self-confessed 'Google/Android fanatic' Joe Sanchez, who managed to take a screenshot of retailer's online listing for the device before the page was removed."

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The Nexus-brand tablets expected to be released by Google will compete directly with Apple's iPad Mini, and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD. And while the tablets are dwarfed in size by the Microsoft Surface's 10-inches, both tablets are expected to be sold well-under the $499 price point.

Although the machines are not as powerful or bulky as the full-sized iPad and the Microsoft Surface, many consumers have opted for 7-inch tablets due to concerns over portability and pricing.  

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