Google's planned 'iPad killer' tablet: 5 talking points

In an interview with an Italian newspaper, chairman Eric Schmidt revealed plans for the company's first tablet device. Should Apple be worried?

As the tablet market leader Apple prepares to launch its third edition of the iPad, Google is planning a rival high-quality tablet device.
(Image credit: Gabriela Hasbun/Aurora Photos/Corbis)

In an interview with an Italian newspaper, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt promised that the company would release an "iPad killer" tablet in the first half of 2012. "In the next six months we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality," he said. "You will see a brutal competition between Apple and Google Android." Still, Google has a spotty history when it comes to developing its own hardware, and most other tablets touted as "iPad killers" have failed to live up to the moniker. Could Google be the company to change that pattern? Here, five talking points:

1. The market is more competitive than ever

It's rumored that Apple's iPad 3 will be released in early 2012, around the same time as this new Google tablet, says Nathan Eddy at eWeek. But the iPad is no longer Google's only competition. Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet currently claim 40 percent of the tablet market. This is also the first time the release of a new iPad will be met with an equally buzzy competitive release, says Shane McGlaun at Slash Gear. It will be interesting to see the new iPad "go head to head" with its Google competition.

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2. This could be the perfect Android showcase

This is an ambitious move, says Erika Morphy at Tech News World, but it makes sense. Google's Android operating systerm has been offered on other companies' tablets, including Amazon's Kindle Fire, to mixed reviews. By developing its own tablet, Google can potentially craft the optimal device to showcase Android and fill a hole in the market. "With the slower adoption of most Android tablets compared to the iPad," Google could actually make a splash with a high-end tablet that "is tightly and perfectly designed to use Android," says McGlaun.

3. But there's still reason to worry

Google doesn't exactly have a great track record when it comes to developing its own hardware, says Douglas A. McIntyre at 24/7 Wall St. The company's Nexus One smartphone, its effort to break into that market, was discontinued in 2010 after a disappointing launch. Meanwhile, the company has enjoyed great success licensing its Android software to other companies. Google "should leave hardware products to those firms with the backgrounds to create them." While it's true that Google's latest smartphone, the recently introduced Galaxy Nexus, has been more warmly received than the Nexus One, says Morphy, "it hasn't made enough of an inroad" to bode well for a Google tablet.

4. A tablet of its own could anger Google's partners

Google's proposed release of its own tablet "could cannibalize the sales of partner tablets" from companies like Samsung and HTC that use Android, says Todd Haselton at BGR. Assuming that Google will hoard the most sophisticated upgrades to Android for its own tablet, the move would "create tension with its best Android customers," says McIntyre. "They'd ask why Google would challenge their sales" when they are the company's "allies in the effort to spread the use of Android to further its lead" over Apple and its operating system.

5. This is a smart move in the long run

Look to Google's most recent high-profile launch for proof that even if this tablet experiences initial hiccups, the company will move forward, says Morphy. If the rollout of Google+ demonstrated anything, it's that Google is "willing to keep trying something even when the first endeavor is less than successful." "My hunch is that Google will try this," Simon says, "and if it doesn't work, might try it again at another point."

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