Google to sell its own tablets in 2012: WSJ

Google's Project Fi will use Wi-Fi hotspots along with the US mobile networks of Sprint and T-Mobile, and also may be used in 120 countries without roaming charges

Google may start selling Google-branded tablets in 2012 in a bid to boost Android-powered tablet sales in a market that is dominated by Apple’s iPad.

“The Internet search company will sell co-branded tablets directly to consumers through an online store like rivals Apple and Inc.,” said The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter. “The move is an effort to turn around sluggish sales of tablet computers powered by Google's Android software.”

While Google’s brand name will feature prominently on the “Google” tablets, the company is not expected to design and produce the hardware in-house. Various manufacturers including Samsung Electronics Co. and AsusTeK Computer Inc. will be responsible for the hardware on the devices, said The Wall Street Journal.  

The tablets will not be Google’s first foray into the consumer device market. In 2010 Google launched the HTC Corp.-made Nexus One smartphone under its own brand and started selling the device contract-free online.

Rumors of a Google-made device started circling back in December 2011 when former Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, “in the next six months we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality.”

Online retailer Amazon is also reported to be beefing up its tablet arsenal in the coming year, following on from the success launch of its Kindle Fire tablet.

In a March 29 report Taiwanese IT industry English-language newspaper DigiTimes said that “Amazon will launch at least two tablet PCs in 2012, with a possibility that the number may increase to four, according to industry sources. Shipments of a 10.1-inch model are expected to begin in July."