Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) second-generation Nexus 7 tablet will reportedly arrive around July and will pack a Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon processor, apparently chosen in part for its ability to tightly integrate with the chipmaker's 3G/LTE baseband modem.
Reuters reported the July launch date and said Google intends to ship 6 million to 8 million Nexus 7 tablets--manufactured by Asustek--in the second half of 2013. Enders Analysis mobile industry analyst Benedict Evans has estimated that 4.6 million first-generation Nexus 7s sold in the same period last year after its June release.
The new Nexus 7 is expected to offer higher screen resolution and have a thinner bezel. Citing "sources with knowledge of the new product," Reuters said the next-generation tablet will be aggressively priced in order to encourage adoption and gain more exposure for Google's ads. Current pricing is $199 for the 16 GB version of the first-generation product with Wi-Fi only and $249 for the 32 GB version.
Google may retain similar pricing for the new version and discount the old model or could discount each version of the new model by $50 and discontinue the previous model, said Reuters. Either option would have Google undercutting the lowest priced Apple iPad mini, which starts at $300 for a version with Wi-Fi.
It has been rumored for several weeks that the new Nexus 7 will include a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, which will replace the Nvidia Tegra 3 chip used in last year's Nexus 7 model. Google, Qualcomm and Nvidia declined to comment, said Reuters.
It also was rumored that Google was eyeing Nvidia's new Tegra 4, which includes an integrated LTE baseband modem. Reports have pointed to production delays for that product, but Reuters said Qualcomm won the bid based because its chip showed better power consumption that Nvidia's.
Offering another point of view, Pacific Crest analyst Michael McConnell predicted back in February that Qualcomm's Snapdragon APQ8064 chip would be selected due to pricing as well as Google's desire to source the application processor and 3G/LTE baseband modem from a single supplier. That would take care of logistical issues as well as ensure tighter component integration.
It also would indicate that Google is ready to include LTE in the Nexus 7. The current version offers only Wi-Fi with the option to add GSM/HSPA+.
Similarly, in October when Google and its partner LG Electronics announced the Nexus 4 smartphone, many were disappointed that the device does not include LTE capability. Andy Rubin, Google's senior vice president of mobile and Android chief at the time, indicated the company did not want to deal with the cost and battery-life issues engendered by including multiple generations of radios. Google was also likely concerned about LTE spectrum fragmentation issues.
It appears, however, that the company may be ready to acknowledge that LTE is now a "must have" for potential tablet buyers.
Google will likely release information on the new Nexus 7 during its I/O Conference, May 15-17, in San Francisco.
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