7-inch Google tablet expected to launch next week

This is shaping up to be a momentous month for tablets. In the wake of Microsoft's Surface tablet announcement, DigiTimes reports that Google is about to announce a tablet jointly developed with Asus. That device, the site says, will premiere at the Google I/O developer conference next week, between June 27 and June 29.

Unlike the 10.6" Surface, Google's tablet—the Nexus—will apparently be a small, low-end product with a bargain-basement price tag. Quoting "sources from upstream component makers," DigiTimes says it expects the device to cost $199 and to lack both cellular connectivity and a rear camera. There will, however, be a front camera for video conferencing.

We may find the Google tablet in the market sooner rather than later, too. DigiTimes claims the Nexus is already in production and "is estimated to be available in the retail channel in July." Shipments should purportedly total "at least three million units" in the second half of the year. (Just to put things in perspective, Apple shipped 12 million iPads last quarter.)

I quite like what Microsoft has done with the Surface, but I don't know if Google can do anything as exciting within the constraints of a $199 price tag and a 7" display. Perhaps Google's priorities are different, though. I suppose having a solid entry-level Android tablet running the vanilla version of Ice Cream Sandwich wouldn't hurt.

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