Asus 'confirms' Google-branded tablet is about to be revealed

Kindle Fire
Image caption Google's device is reported to be a similar size and price to the Kindle Fire

Speculation that Google will shortly unveil an own-brand tablet appears to have been confirmed by Asus.

Reuters has quoted one of the Taiwanese manufacturer's executives as saying the device had been designed to compete with Amazon's handheld computer .

The article is the latest to suggest Asus is building a tablet for the Android developer despite Google's purchase of Motorola, which also makes tablets.

Google declined to comment.

A keynote speech at the start of its annual I/O conference in San Francisco later is also expected to contain details about the next version of its Android operating system.

In addition the firm may provide updates about its Google TV platform and its Glass augmented reality headwear project.

Small screens

Reuters quotes the unnamed Asus executive as saying: "It's targeting Amazon. The Kindle is based on Google's platform but with its own service, so Google has to launch its own service too."

Bloomberg has also reported that "two people familiar with the matter" had confirmed an Asus-made Google-branded 7-inch tablet was set to be unveiled.

According to research firm Comscore, Amazon's Kindle Fire accounted for 54% of the Android tablet market in the US in February. The machine has yet to be released in other countries.

"Google is probably going to want to distinguish itself from the iPad as much as possible," David McQueen, principal analyst at the tech consultancy, Informa, told the BBC.

Image caption Asus already makes the Transformer Book which it describes as the "world's biggest tablet"

"Beyond running Android one way to do that is to offer a high-quality device with a smaller screen.

"Of course other firms have tried to do that. But apart from the Kindle Fire most have been significantly more expensive than $200 [£128]. If Google can hit that price point with more impressive features it should be able to grow the market for its mainstream Android system."

Amazon may be prepared for the challenge. Tech site Cnet has reported that an updated Kindle Fire could be announced next month.

Any new devices will also face competition from Microsoft later in the year when it releases its Windows 8-powered family of Surface tablets.

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