Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Google to ship a 3G-equipped version of the Nexus 7 within six weeks: report

Despite rumors of an iPad mini inbound, Google is only about six weeks away from releasing a 3G version of its hit wi-fi only Nexus 7 tablet. That's the report coming from a “well placed insider” at Google's Nexus 7 OEM, Asus, speaking to Paul O'Brien at MoDaCo.

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There are plenty of good reasons to believe that Google would do this. For one, the Nexus 7 tablet has sold well since its June debut in June, and just last month, some analysts estimated that between six and eight million of the tablets could be sold by the end of 2012. While not iPad numbers, that would be more than twice as much as the three million that Google had predicted.

The addition of 3G would widen the device's appeal. In our mind, cellular connectivity for a tablet is a must, because despite what some think, there are still plenty of places where you can't find free wi-fi to connect to. The lack of Nexus 7 cellular connectivity has been a source of negative feedback for the device.

Now, there are also plenty of reasons to discount the speculation. Among them are the fact that a recent report said that 90 percent of tablets sold are wi-fi only.

Another would be the fact that Google hasn't really cultivated any carrier relationships yet. Because of that, as well as to keep costs down, we'd expect any cellular-supporting Nexus 7 to be an unlocked GSM version, sans LTE, and definitely not CDMA-capable.

Ideally, in our opinion, the device would be sold without a contract and have an easy way to perform month-to-month operation of the cellular connection. The iPad's easy "enter a credit card at any time" functionality has freed purchasers of the device from any contract. It's also meant the iPad has been sold unsubsidized, but since many consider it "the" tablet, it hasn't mattered in terms of sales.

With Amazon.com expected to launch its Kindle Fire 2 this week, and with rumors that the KF2 will sport 3G connectivity, there is strong impetus for Google to release a Nexus 7 with cellular capability.

That said, the iPad mini, could - if priced properly - hammer the KF2 and Nexus 7 sales, making all this speculation meaningless.

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