The race to offer the lowest-priced tablet on the market is rumored to reach a new level later this year, with Google reportedly planning to release a $99 Nexus 7 tablet.
Google is said to be working with Asustek on two new versions of its Nexus 7 tablet, according to DigiTimes. The new models are expected to be thinner and will utilize panels made by HannStar display, sources told the industry publication.
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"One of the models will be priced at US$199 while the other will be priced at US$99, and both models are expected to hit markets by the end of 2012," the report said.
Google's rumored sub-$100 tablet is said to be in anticipation of Apple's so-called "iPad mini." The company is expected to hold an event in October to introduce a new, smaller 7.85-inch iPad model.
If Google does release a new, less expensive Nexus 7 model this year, its debut would come only a few months after the launch of the $199 8-gigabyte Nexus 7. Google's low-priced tablet was seen as a response to the Amazon Kindle Fire, which reached that same price point last year while forking the open-source Android operating system to create Amazon's own separate platform.
Amazon responded to the Nexus 7 by undercutting its price with a new low-end model for $159 which debuted earlier this month. The expanded Kindle Fire lineup goes as high as the $499 price point with an "HD" model that features integrated 4G LTE support and offers $50/year, 250-megabyte-per-month data plans.
Just this week, Barnes & Noble also made a bigger push into the tablet space dominated by Apple's iPad as it introduced a new 9-inch Nook HD+. That device will be priced at $269 for a 16-gigabyte model, while the 7-inch Nook HD will cost $199 for an 8-gigabyte model.