Google & Asustek Reportedly Planning $99 Tablet for Xmas

| Rumor

Cheap TabletIn an effort to plumb the depths of you-get-what-you-pay-for, Google and Asustek are reportedly working on developing a US$99 tablet in time for Christmas. According to Taiwan-based DigiTimes, the two companies are conspiring on a thinner form factor for the $199 Nexus 7 and a second unspecified $99 model in order to keep in front of Apple's unannounced iPad mini.

DigiTimes has a long and hallowed history of publishing stories based on leaks from Apple's supply chain. Many of those leaks haven't been borne out by time, but the newspaper's reports that have improved in the last couple of years.

In the case of this new report not directly involving Apple, the leak cites display maker HannStar Display, though the source of the leak isn't specified as being from within that company. Be that as it may, HannStar would make the displays, and Google/Asustek wants the end device to be inexpensive.

[Via CNet]

Image made with help and help from Shutterstock.

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One key to understanding DigiTimes and the newspaper's leaks, at least when it comes to Apple, is that Apple's supply chain is ginormous. One component of ginormosity is that there are legions of people who don't directly work for Apple who are nevertheless working on some aspect of a product for Apple. Every one of those people represents an increased chance that someone will talk.

At the same time, another aspect of Apple's ginomonstrosityness is that the company is always working on any number of products and prototypes that may or may not ever see the light of day. As Apple's supplier make the components that go into those prototypes, leaks about those prototypes also make their way to DigiTimes and other publications.

The punch line—in case you were looking for something more than made up, silly-sounding words—is that there's no way to necessarily filter out the experiments from the actual products because Apple keeps all of its suppliers in the dark as much as it can.

The same is true for everyone else, and remember that Android's supply chain as a whole is larger than even Apple's. That's a lot of people working on stuff who can have a nice chit-chat with a friendly reporter, even if the world cares a lot less about what they might be working on than it does about Apple's stuff.

So, are Google and Asustek working on thinner Nexii 7 and some unspecified $99 tablet? Of course they are, and they (and other Google OEMs) are also working on all manner of other products that may or may not ship some day.

In the meanwhile, if a $99 tablet is in the works, Google should radically rethink this desire to rush to the bottom as the means of competing with Apple's iPad. Sucking the profit margins out of the hardware market is not the way to foster the kind of innovation needed to meet Apple, especially when Apple has the economy-of-scale advantage.

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Comments

Eolake Stobblehouse

Oh, I don’t know. They may not make any *money* from a $100 tablet, but who could ever stop fools before?
And even more than a year ago (more like two), I bought Chinese Android tablets in this price range. The hardware was crappy, of course, but they *worked*. So I think it should be doable to make a decent tablet very soon for a hunnert. And I think there’s no reason they shouldn’t sell like hotcakes, even if Apple has a much better one for $200. And I don’t think Apple can go lower than that, it’d threaten their Premium Brand image and thus profit margins.

So we only need the Play Store to really work, and that could happen too.

Nick

With Google’s name slapped on the device, I doubt it is going to be some cheap Chinese imitation piece of junk. I bet the hardware and specs will be close to what the Nexus 7 is now or better. The whole point is to drive consumers to the Android operating system so that Google can generate revenue through ad revenue and their Play Store, not make any money on the product. They accepted the loss on the product when they made the Nexus 7 $199.

Eolake Stobblehouse

Just so.
If they could make a “toy” 7-incher two years ago for around $100, they can probably make a good one now, or soon.
And yes, they probably hope to “do an Amazon” and make the money on soft sales. Whether they can, is anybody’s guess.

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