Google took the wraps off its latest Nexus gadgets, including 7-inch and 10-inch tablets, on the same day that Microsoft was introducing its new mobile software at an industry event in San Francisco, and less than a week after Apple (AAPL) announced its 7.9-inch iPad Mini.
The gadgets have features and pricing that Google clearly hopes will give it an edge in the intensely competitive mobile market. The Internet giant works with different hardware manufacturers to produce devices under its flagship Nexus brand, which are intended to show off the latest features of its Android mobile operating system.
Google's new Nexus 10 tablet, for example, is made by Samsung but will come with an upgraded version of Android that is not yet available on 10-inch tablets made by other manufacturers. Google also boasts that the 10-inch Nexus screen has higher resolution than the vaunted Retina display that Apple offers with its newest full-sized iPad.
Other Android tablets
In contrast with Apple, which started with a 9.7-inch iPad and only last week added the smaller iPad Mini, Google's Nexus 10 joins a line of tablets that started with a smaller device and is now getting bigger. The first Nexus tablet, made by Asus, had a 7-inch screen and was introduced last summer.
Google has lowered the price of its updated Nexus 7 -- a 16-gigabyte model now sells for $199 instead of $299 -- which may help it compete with the $159 Kindle Fire from Amazon and especially with the $329 iPad Mini.
Like the tablets, the new Nexus 4 phone made by LG will come with an upgraded version of Android that's not yet available on other phones, even those made by Google-owned Motorola Mobility.
The new Android version 4.2 includes features intended to make typing easier and let users create photographic images with 360-degree panoramic views. It also has voice technology and an expanded service called Google Now, which sends useful information -- such as weather updates, status of airline flights, and traffic reports -- to users based on their previous online activity.
The phone, however, will not be offered by Verizon or AT&T, which means many consumers won't get a carrier-subsidized price. Google said it will sell unlocked 8- and 16-gigabyte versions of the phone directly to consumers, for $299 and $349 respectively, while a 16-gigabyte model will be sold for $199 by T-Mobile.
By avoiding the two leading carriers, Google may have kept more control over the hardware and software design of the new phone, according to IDC analyst Will Stofega. The phone will work on the carrier's regular networks, but not on their latest high-speed networks known as LTE.
Google had planned to unveil the products at a launch event in New York on Monday, but when those plans were scrapped because of Hurricane Sandy, the company proceeded to make the announcement on its corporate blog.
Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022; follow him at Twitter.com/BrandonBailey