Google plans to chip away at iPad and Kindle Fire sales by selling Android tablets directly to consumers through an online store. According to the Wall Street Journal, the site will carry tablets co-branded with Google Android and a number of key hardware manufacturers. The WSJ speculates that these could include Samsung and Asus as well as Motorola, whose purchase by Google is awaiting final approval.
Google struggled with a similar approach in 2010 when selling the Nexus One phone, manufactured by HTC. Likewise, Android tablets have as yet failed to catch on to the extent of Android smartphones.
The WSJ says further details of the project remain unclear, including when Google plans to launch the online store and whether it will be closely tied into to Google’s ambitions for a music and video streaming platform. It points out that the next version of the Android OS, named Jelly Bean, is due around the middle of this year, so a new hardware push could follow on the back of that.
It may also be easier to sell certain tablets on a global scale, many of which will come in standard Wi-Fi only versions, so Google would not need mobile service carrier deals in place for each country. The report also suggests that co-branded Google tablets could be subsidised to make them cheaper, which has been a successful approach for Amazon’s Kindle Fire.