Report: Google Planning Its Own Online Store to Sell Branded Tablets

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Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

Our own Jared Newman thought that the release of the new iPad was a wake-up call for the people at Google. Apparently they got the message. According to the Wall Street Journal‘s always helpful “people familiar with the matter,” Google is planning to open its own online store to sell co-branded tablet computers.

According to the report, the tablets will initially be manufactured by Google’s existing partners Samsung and Asus. Google is also expected to sell its own tablets built by Motorola, which it bought in August of last year for $12.5 billion.

(MORE: The New iPad Is Out. What Now, Everybody Else?)

The Wall Street Journal‘s sources are not familiar with the matter of when, exactly, this store will open. They did say that Google is expected to release the next version of its Android operating system, named Jelly Bean, in the middle of this year.

This isn’t Google’s first foray into the world of hardware. Its first attempt was a partnership with HTC to release the Nexus One smartphone, which failed to gain mainstream attraction, in part, because Google had trouble lining up wireless carriers for its global sales strategy.

So why does Google think this will be different? Says the Journal:

This time, however, Google won’t have to worry about pairing with wireless carriers because tablets are primarily used with WiFi connections in people’s homes.

To boost the prospects of its new online tablet store, Google was considering subsidizing the cost of future tablets in order to compete on pricing with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, said one person with knowledge of the effort.

In addition, Google will lend huge marketing support to the online tablet store, said people familiar with the effort.

The fact that Google is planning to compete with the Kindle Fire on price backs up some previous rumors we’ve heard about its tablet strategy, including a possible $200 Asus MeMo tablet with Google’s “Nexus” branding. An iPad killer? No, no it is not. But it’s not a bad way for the company to push content from its Google Play store, meaning it’s Amazon and Barnes & Noble who should be a little worried.

MORE: Nine Possible Explanations for the Lousy State of Android Tablet Apps

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