Google Unveils Another Phone, Larger Nexus Tablet
SAN FRANCISCO - Google is cramming a few more gadgets on to already crowded holiday shopping lists.
The devices announced Monday include the latest in Google’s line of Nexus smartphones and a larger version of the 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet, which the company began selling in July. It’s also adding cellular capabilities to the Nexus 7 and doubling the capacity of existing models.
The Nexus 4 smartphone is being made by LG Electronics Inc. and features a minor update to Google’s Android operating system, which now powers more than 500 million devices worldwide. A more comprehensive makeover, known as Key Lime Pie, is expected next year. The version of Android affected by these changes is known as Jelly Bean.
The larger Nexus tablet is being made by Samsung Electronics Co. and features a display screen that measures about 10 inches diagonally, about the same size as Apple Inc.’s top-selling iPad.
With these additions to its product lineup, Google joins a procession of companies selling a gamut of sleek and powerful computing devices in different shapes and sizes. Some are smartphones and others are tablet computers, but they all aim to cater to people’s growing interest to have easily portable devices that can be used to connect to the Internet, take pictures, watch video, play games and read books, magazines and newspapers.
Google’s Nexus devices will be competing with gadgets from such companies as Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc., Samsung and Microsoft Corp. Microsoft released a new tablet called Surface last week and launched new software for phones on Monday.
The array of phones and tablets hitting the market underscores how much mobile computing is shaking up the technology industry. The shift has undercut sales of desktop and laptop computers, decreasing the amount of revenue that Microsoft gets from licensing Windows and hurting companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. that make the machines.
Although Android has ensured that Google’s search engine and other services play a prominent role in mobile computing, Google also is experiencing some short-term pain because the advertising rates on phones and tablets so far haven’t been as high as the prices on desktops and laptops. Advertising accounts for most of Google’s revenue.
Google’s introduction of a larger tablet comes less than a week after Apple announced it’s making a smaller, less expensive iPad, with a 7.9-inch display, to compete with the Nexus 7 and Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle Fire. The iPad Mini will be available in stores Friday.
Some analysts have questioned whether consumers will balk at the iPad Mini’s $329 price for a device with 16 gigabytes of storage. Google is widening the price difference between the iPad Mini and its smaller tablet by cutting $50 off the price of a comparable, 16-gigabyte Nexus 7, to $199. The 8-gigabyte version, which had sold for $199, will be discontinued. A Nexus 7 with 32 gigabytes of storage is being introduced for $249 in an apparent effort to discourage even more people from buying the iPad Mini. The cheapest Nexus 7 is still pricier than the Kindle Fire, which starts at $159 for a no-frills model.