- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — Google is unveiling a small tablet computer bearing its brand in a challenge to Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The Nexus 7 is designed specifically for Google Play, the online store that sells movies, music, books, apps and other content — the things Amazon.com Inc. also sells for its tablet computer.

Both tablets have screens that measure 7 inches diagonally, smaller than the nearly 10 inches on Apple Inc.’s popular iPad. The Nexus 7 will also be light — at about 0.75 pound, compared with the Kindle Fire’s 0.9 pound. The iPad weighs 1.44 pounds.

The Nexus 7 will ship in mid-July starting at $199 — the same price as the Kindle Fire. By contrast, iPads start at $499. Customers can start ordering it through Google on Wednesday, initially in the U.S., Canada and Australia.


Andrew Rassweiler, an analyst with IHS iSuppli, said he suspects Google will be subsidizing the tablet to sell it starting at $199.

The Nexus 7 has more features than the Kindle, including a front-facing camera. The Kindle is believed to be roughly break even at that price. Samsung Electronics Co. sells a tablet similar to Google’s for $250.

The Nexus 7 will run the next version of Google Inc.’s Android operating system, called Jelly Bean.

Google also announced a home entertainment device called Nexus Q. It sends content from your personal collection or YouTube to your existing TV and speaker systems. You control it through a separate Android phone or tablet.

The Nexus Q, which Google is calling the world’s first “social streaming device,” will available in July in the U.S. initially and sell for $299.

Google made the announcements during a keynote to open its annual conference in San Francisco for computer programmers.

Google also demonstrated its futuristic, Internet-connected glasses by having parachutists jump out of a plane above San Francisco. The audience got live video feeds from their glasses as they descended to land on the roof of the Moscone Center, the location of the conference.

Google is making prototypes of the glasses available to computer programmers to try out. They can only be purchased — for $1,500 — at the conference this week, for delivery early next year. Google is also giving all 6,000 attendees a Nexus 7, Nexus Q and Google Nexus phone for free.

At the event, Google provided an update on its Google Plus social network, which the company considers crucial to challenging Facebook Inc. for users and advertising. Google said the year-old social network now has 250 million, far smaller than Facebook’s more than 900 million but larger than what Facebook had at the one-year mark.

Google said more people use Google Plus from mobile devices than traditional computers. On Wednesday, it introduced a Google Plus app for Android tablets and said one for the iPad is coming “very soon.”

Google’s expansion into the tablet market with the Nexus 7 brings another imposing entrant into what is already a battle of tech heavyweights. Last week, Microsoft Corp. announced its own tablet, Surface. Expected to go on sale this fall, Surface will run on a revamped version of Windows and compete directly with the iPad.

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