SAN FRANCISCO (UPDATED) - Google on Wednesday unveiled its own branded Nexus 7 tablet computer designed to challenge Apple's iPad and be a window into its online shop for films, books, movies and more.
The seven-inch tablet powered by the latest generation of Android software was made for Google by Taiwan-based Asus and weighs about as much as a paperback book, according to Android team head Hugo Barra.
"We wanted to design a best-of Google experience optimized around the content available at Google Play," Barra said during a presentation opening the Internet titan's annual developers conference in San Francisco.
Nexus tablets were available for order in Australia, Canada, Britain, and the United States at the Google Play store at a price of $199 and would begin shipping in mid-July, Barra said.
The tablets come with a $25 coupon for Google Play content.
Google also Introduced an Android-powered Nexus Q device for wirelessly streaming films or music to televisions or speakers.
An Asustek executive earlier said Google will unveil a tablet co-branded with Taiwan's Asustek Computer Inc. and priced to compete with Amazon's Kindle Fire device.
Amazon's Kindle Fire, which runs a version of Google's Android operating system, sells for $199. Through it users can access Amazon content including books, music and video.
"It's targeting Amazon. The Kindle is based on Google's platform but with its own service, so Google has to launch its own service, too," said the executive of the device.
Google has its own store for apps called Google Play, but does not have anything like Amazon's service.
Bloomberg earlier reported that Google would launch a tablet at its developer conference this week, taking direct aim at Apple Inc's iPad, citing two people familiar with the matter. One of the sources said the 7-inch tablet would showcase new features of Android.
The Asustek executive, who did not want to be named as the planned device has not yet been made public, declined to give details on its price, specifications or launch timetable. Rumours that the search engine giant planned to launch a tablet at its annual developer conference have circulated on tech blogs for weeks.
Apple's iPad had a 68 percent share of the market in January-March, according to data from IDC. Amazon had a little over 4 percent, lagging Samsung Electronics and Lenovo. Microsoft last week introduced its own line of tablet computers, marking a major strategic shift for the software giant as it struggles to compete with Apple and re-invent its aging Windows franchise.
Google has previously worked with hardware manufacturers HTC and Samsung to produce co-branded Android mobile phones under the Nexus brand. This would be its first such tablet device.
Asustek shares gained 2.6 percent in Taipei, outperforming a 0.6 percent gain on the benchmark stock index. - with a report from Reuters