Google is betting on consumers, believing they won’t mind paying bit more for a sleeker, more powerful version of its Nexus 7 tablet as the Internet company take its rivalry with Apple and Amazon.com further in technology’s ultimate battleground known to be the mobile computing market.
The latest fancy devices were unveiled in San Francisco on Wednesday and will start selling in the United States on Tuesday in both Google’s online store and various brick-and-mortar retailers.
The new ramped-up line of Nexus tablets will feature a higher-definition 7-inch display screen and a processor with the promise of double the speed. Other added features in the device comprises of Dual stereo speakers for richer sound, and the device’s battery back-up duration has been increased to 10 hours for Web browsing, giving an addition of about an hour to consumers.
Another product launched by Google Inc. as part of its strategy on other fronts, it has also unveiled another gadget that will be based on its widely used Chrome Web browser and compete with Apple in the living room front.
This newly launched device is called the Chromecast, and has been designed by the company’s with an aim to make it easier to access the Internet content on TV sets. Chromecast looks like a small stick about the size of a thumb drive that can be connected to an HDMI port on flat-panel TVs. The device can be used to access Netflix, Google’s YouTube, and other Internet based content to usually the biggest screen present in households.
Sarah Rotman Epps, analyst at Forrester Research says that Chromecast has the potential to undermine Apple in the still-nascent market of plug streaming devices in TVs, in the same way as the Nexus tablets have captured some market share of the Apple’s iPad.
As most of us already know Google’s previously designed products to connect TV sets to the Internet have not been successful. Google has earlier tried to install an operating system called Google TV in TV sets made by manufacturers, but that didn’t work out. Last year also Google has come up with an orb-like device called the Nexus Q with the expectation of delivering more Internet video to flat-panel TVs, and then quickly taken the product off from the market.
‘‘Chromecast looks like a smart and disruptive device,’’ Rotman Epps said. ‘‘Maybe it took the other failures for Google to get it right.’’
The reason why Google is trying so hard to have a TV presence is because it could open up a profitable new channel for it to sell more ads, which happens to bring in highest revenue.
As an endeavour to make evident its determination to make inroads on TVs, Google has already started selling the Chromecast for just $35 on Wednesday. The said price tag undercuts the most popular Internet-streaming devices made by Apple and Roku. Where an Apple TV box is available for $99, the least expensive Roku box with the capability of showing high-definition videos is available for just $80. Roku, a company that works within the Internet video subscription services of Netflix Inc., also sells an Internet streaming stick quite similar to Chromecast for $100, far higher than Chromecast.
Earlier this year, Apple revealed that it has sold more than 13 million of its streaming boxes. Roku said its sales of streaming boxes surpassed 5 million units this year.
The Chromecast device could be easily connected to smartphones, tablets, and personal computers to stream Internet content to TVs. The Apple and Roku’s streaming boxes however come with the standard remote control to navigate through the Internet content.
To entice people into trying Chromecast, Google is also giving an offer of three months of free Netflix service with the purchase of its Internet-streaming stick. That free service is worth $24 turning the device cost to be at mere $11.
In the latest Nexus 7, the extra features added in the second generation tablet will come for a higher price. A model with 16 GB of storage will come for $229, a $30 increase from the present Nexus 7 released a year ago. This is still 30 percent below the $329 at which Apple sells its iPad Mini. Whereas the Kindle Fire HD tablet from Amazon.com Inc. is currently priced at $199.
A 32GB version of the Nexus 7 is priced at $269, a $20 price increase from the past model.
Google has increased Nexus 7 price at a time when more people have preferred cheaper tablets in comparison to dearer ones. Google itself has drawn benefit of the trend last year with the launch of its Nexus line, which pressurised Apple to come up with the iPad Mini as an alternative to its best-selling tablets with a 10-inch screen.
Google is however certain that the Nexus 7 will still look like a great value deal to consumers once they experience how much more powerful and feature rich these new models are, said Sundar Pichai, an executive who manages the Android and Chrome software.
The Apple’s launch of iPad Mini has lowered the average selling price of Apple’s tablets, bringing down the Cupertino, Calif. based company’s profit margins.