The $249 Asus MeMo Android(s goog) tablet, which was shown off at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, is expected to be the first Google Nexus tablet with a lower price target of $149 to $199. A supply chain employee confirmed the development with Android and Me, an enthusiast blog that previously suggested a 7-inch Google Nexus tablet would launch this year.
To bring the price down, Asus may be opting for a dual-core chip instead of the Nvidia’s(s nvda) quad-core Tegra 3. The OMAP 4 from Texas Instruments(s txn) looks to be the front-runner to power the Nexus tablet. That makes sense, as Android is already primed for OMAP support, given that Google worked with TI on the Galaxy Nexus smartphone, which also uses an OMAP chip.
Why would Google even bother to build and support a Nexus tablet? The only tablets that showed any signs of life against Apple’s iPad(s aapl) were two low-priced, 7-inch slates: the Kindle Fire(s amzn) and Nook Tablet(s bks), which combined for 21 percent of all U.S. tablet sales last quarter. Both run on Google’s Android platform, but Google gets little benefit from these devices, which offer their own app stores and media ecosystems.
I’m still convinced that, while a Google Nexus tablet sounds appealing — especially at a sub-$200 price point — Google’s tablet issue isn’t hardware-related. There’s no lack of well-built Android tablets on the market today. But consumers either don’t find or don’t think they can find the same assortments of apps and media found on the iPad, Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet. It’s the ecosystem and consumer awareness that Google needs to work on, not a Nexus tablet.