Google has something called the Nexus program whereby every year they partner up with a hardware maker and release one device that runs Android the way Google thinks Android should be run. It started with the Nexus One, then there was the Nexus S, and now we have the recently launched Galaxy Nexus. Rumor has it that Google is going to do the same thing with tablets, and that the first of such tablets will hit the market in the first half of this year, it’ll have a 7 inch screen, it will cost just $200, and now we’re hearing it’s made by ASUS. This isn’t the first time we heard this rumor. Back in January we reported on a DigiTimes piece that said Google would release an Ice Cream Sandwich tablet in April for just $200. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google and currently the company’s Executive Chairman, told an Italian newspaper in December of last year that Google would “market a tablet of the highest quality” within 6 months. So why ASUS? There’s a quote floating around the internets right now from an interview that TechRadar did with Benson Lin, Corporate Vice President at ASUS. He says:
“ASUS is very close to Google, so once they have Android 5.0 I think there will be a high possibility that we will be the first wave to offer the Jelly Bean update.”
What does “ASUS is very close to Google” actually mean? We can speculate day and night, but let’s just look at the facts: Andy Rubin, the father of Android, told the press at Mobile World Congress last week that there are only 12 million Android tablets out in the market. Apple sold more iPads in Q4 of last year. Amazon sells a $200 tablet called the Fire, and sales are estimated to be in the 6+ million range. It’s been on the market for a little over three months in just one country.
Can you see why Google wants to break into that space?