Google is said to once again be thinking about selling hardware directly to consumers. This time around, instead of Nexus phones, we'll get Nexus, or whatever they end up being called, tablets.
It seems that Google hasn't given up on the dream of an online store offering Android hardware directly to buyers.
The Wall Street Journal, relying on people in the know, says
Google is working on an online store for co-branded Android tablets. The tablets will be manufactured by Google's traditional partners in the space.
The first is said to be an Asus-built tablet, that we've been hearing about for a while now
, which is said to debut this year, presumably along with the store.
The next version of Android, the WSJ says, is slated to land this mid-summer, not in fall as it was previously suggested, so it's safe to assume that the Google-branded Asus tablet will be there as the flagship device for the new Android.
Likewise, that's probably the date that the Google tablet store will debut. Google wants its own store to better compete with Apple and Amazon both of which have very popular tablets, the first and second most popular in the US.
Google tried to sell directly to consumers before, when it launched the HTC-built, Nexus One. The experiment failed and Google shut down the online store as it proved unpopular.
US consumers are used to paying for heavily subsidized phones pushed by carriers attaching a two-year contract to the deal. Contract-free phones sold by Google were significantly more expensive.
But Google doesn't have this problem with tablets which don't really need carriers. Google has several tricks up its sleeve this time around as well.
The company may start offering heavy subsidies to sales via the online store driving the prices of the tablets sold there down. Google will also likely emphasize its entertainment service, Google Play, which offers music, movies, ebooks and, of course, apps and games.
Android tablets, so far, have been a disappointment. Even the most popular have abysmal sales numbers and the biggest seller is a tablet built by Amazon featuring a rehashed Android, with no Google components.
But Amazon was able to generate the sale numbers by producing a very cheap tablet and by marketing it heavily on its site. Google seems to be determined to do exactly the same.