A battle between Google and Apple over the mobile communications market will get brutal next year as the search and operating-system giant launches its own branded device to take on the iPad.
That's what Google CEO Eric Schmidt promises, telling an Italian newspaper that "in the next six months we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality." The comments in Corriere della Serra are widely believed to signal that a tablet based on the pure-Google Nexus phone model is in the works.'Leading Edge of Google Technology'
There are already dozens of tablets made by other manufacturers that run Google's Android operating system, including Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Motorola's Xoom. Given the increasingly cozy relationship between the Mountain View, Calif.-based company and South Korean electronics giant Samsung, it might be a safe bet that's who is building it.
Samsung just released the Galaxy Nexus, the first to run Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and its devices are to be the first to get Android updates.
So how would a Nexus tablet be different from a Tab or a Xoom? And how would it stack up against the market king iPad 2?
"The Nexus line defines the leading edge of Google's technology," said Rob Enderle, principal technology analyst at Enderle Group. "This is the fast track to market, but the iPad is defined by user experience, not by technology leadership. "
Enderle said Schmidt's boast reminded him of similar posturing by Palm before the unsuccessful 2010 launch of its Palm Pre phones.
"Google is the master of fast, but to compete successfully with Apple you have to be the master of user experience and both define and deliver a great one," Enderle said. "Google has struggled with that, and simply bringing out a bad, cheap copy of the iPad won't prove to be that successful." Praise for Steve Jobs.
Amazon's success with the Kindle Fire tablet shows an opening for non-iPad tablets, Enderle said, "but the fact that Amazon had to fork Android to do that suggests that Google has to behave differently if they want to be successful here."
In the interview with Milan-based Corriere della Serra, Schmidt also praised his former rival, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, as a friend and "the Michelangelo of our time" who "realized the revolutionary potential of the tablet and has created an amazing product like the iPad."
Schmidt's comments come as the rumor mill has been shifting to focus on the third-generation iPad, with current speculation that it would have a smaller screen than the current 9.7-inches, which would make it more portable.
Enderle said it was likely no coincidence that Schmidt's comments, from an interview in New York at Google's new headquarters there, were given to a European publication.
"Apple's weaker in Europe and Google's platform, conversely, is more popular," he said. "It will play better there, so I think this was likely planned."
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