Google Wednesday announced the Nexus 7, a new Android 4.1 Jelly
Bean tablet that doesn't strive to be the best tablet in the
market. Rather than target market champ Apple and its iPad, the low
price and content store tie-ins make the Nexus 7 a Kindle
The specs of the device were more or less leaked in their
entirety ahead of its debut at Google I/O in San Francisco on
Wednesday. It has a 7-inch display with 1280 x 800 resolution,
making it an ideal HD video player. It is powered by a quad-core
Tegra 3 processor. But Google surprised attendees of during the
introduction by revealing that it also has 12 graphic processing
cores. This makes the Nexus 7, in effect, a 16-core device, which
Google says makes it a killer gaming machine.
It has Wi-Fi, but no 3G; it has a user-facing, 1.3-megapixel
camera, but no heavy duty shooter for actual photography; it has 8
GB or 16 GB of storage, but that can't be expanded with microSD
cards. It includes HDMI out for passing video to a television, as
well as a standard headphone jack and USB port.
The device will be the first to ship with the new Android 4.1
Jelly Bean operating system, and will also be the first to include
Google's Chrome browser out of the box. The two models will cost
USD 199 and USD 249 for the 8-GB and 16-GB versions,
Though the device may be somewhat ho-hum in the specs department
(and, to be honest, in its overall design, too), the hardware isn't
the real story with the Nexus 7. Not at all.
The big story is the Google Play Store.
Google has revitalized the Google Play store with more content
and other goodies. First, the Play Store has added the ability to
buy movies and television programs. (Previously, video content
could only be rented.) The new capability means that consumers have
yet another option when it comes to buying digital goods. Movies,
individual television episodes, and complete seasons are available
at prices that are inline with other online contents.
The Google Play Store also now supports magazine purchases and
subscriptions. Users can buy individual issues or subscribe to
monthly delivery of digital mags.
These changes, when added to the existing availability of music
and app content from the Google Play Store, put Google in more
direct competition with Amazon's own content offerings and the
Kindle Fire--Amazon's USD 199 book-, music-, and video-consuming
The good news here is that Google knows what it is up against.
It has a handle on the fact that the Nexus 7 isn't an iPad killer.
Instead, it is meant to serve as a cheap hardware platform from
which Android fans can purchase Google's digital goods.
Can the Nexus 7 be a contender?
It has potential, no doubt. The price will certainly help it
compete against the Kindle Fire, but Google's content store still
needs to show some growth. Reports have suggested that Google isn't
happy with the uptake of its music store, which cost Google a lot
of money to license from the music labels. Its selection of tracks,
albums, and movies pales next to what Amazon and Apple offer. The
store is reasonably well-designed, but before today lacked key
features (video purchasing).
As long as the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean interface isn't a disaster
to use on the small-ish tablet, the Nexus 7 could put a dent in
e-reader sales this holiday season.
It goes on sale in July, and can be ordered directly from the
Google Play Store.