Google appears ready to take on the Kleenex of the tablet market after two years of watching Apple invent and dominate the market with iPads. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the company will open its own online store to sell tablet models that it co-brands with manufacturers such as AsusTek and Samsung. Once the proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility is approved by U.S. regulators, Google also will be free to manufacture and sell is own tablets.
WSJ reports that the plan is to introduce the online store with devices that will carry a Google co-brand, although a range of hardware OEMs will be represented. It appears that no timeline for the online store has been set, but Google is scheduled to release its next version of the Android operating system in the middle of this year.
Google has attempted to sell its own branded Android hardware with little impact on the market. Its Nexus line of Android phones was offered direct to consumers online, but that plan was abandoned in short order. But Google is no doubt frustrated by the apparent inability of Android tablets to break through in a market that seems owned by iPads. The Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook line, while powered by Android, use heavily customized versions of the OS that maintain their own walled-garden approach to Android apps.
Despite Apple’s success in defining the tablet market with the iPad, recent research suggests that Android has an important role to play in the expansion of the device platform worldwide. ABI Research contends that lower-priced devices in the sub-$400 range, will surge in the market and grab 60% share by 2016. IDC also projects that Android tablets will overtake Apple in the market by 2015.