Jul 26, 2013

    Google unveils new tablet and video streamer

    GOOGLE on Wednesday showcased a new-generation, slimmer Nexus 7 tablet that the Internet-search firm hopes will expand its presence in consumer hardware.

    The latest Nexus 7, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a higher display resolution, will be priced at US$229 (S$290) for a basic version with 16GB of storage. The original year-old tablet started at US$199 for 8GB.

    The first-generation Nexus 7, which marked Google's initial foray into mobile electronics, was financially a break-even product for the company, analysts have said.

    Also on Wednesday, Google revived an earlier attempt to get into online video streaming with the introduction of the Chromecast - a two-inch US$35 gadget that plugs into the back of television sets and lets users stream YouTube and Netflix videos via their smartphones.

    The announcements came a week before Google's Motorola division is expected to unveil the Moto X smartphone in New York. The Moto X represents the first phone that Motorola has developed since it was acquired by Google for US$12.5 billion in May last year, and is central to relaunching the brand into a highly-competitive mobile market.

    Google and other traditionally non-hardware firms such as and Microsoft have begun making inroads into mobile devices as consumers increasingly access the Web on the go.

    Google, which gets the lion's share of its revenue from online and mobile advertising, wants the aggressively-priced Nexus tablets to be a hit, as more users would mean more exposure for its ads.

    Its Nexus line, which includes smartphones and tablets made by partners like Samsung Electronics and HTC, serves as references for manufacturers across the globe adopting its Android mobile software system.

    On Wednesday, Mr Sundar Pichai, head of Android and Chrome software, said that, since its launch, the Nexus 7 line has accounted for more than 10 per cent of all Android tablets sold.

    Meanwhile, Google's new Chromecast gadget will employ a stripped-down version of the Chrome operating system, now used primarily in laptop computers. Chromecast will allow consumers to use their smartphones almost like remote controls, letting them play and control video apps without a traditional remote.