A Google Nexus tablet to kill the Kindle Fire? Hang on a sec, folks

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)

Google Nexus Tablet

The blogosphere's ablaze right now with word that Google might be making its own Nexus-branded Android tablet. The latest twist: The alleged Google Nexus tablet will exist not to "kill the iPad," but rather to extinguish Amazon's popular Kindle Fire device, with a price tag well below $200.

Boy, that makes for an attention-grabbing headline. Before we put too much stock in it, though, let's consider the origins of the rumor. Because that's all it is: a rumor. And a shoddily sourced one, at that.

The Google Nexus Tablet Talk: Problem #1

The whole Google Nexus tablet tornado started when Google big wig Eric Schmidt made some remarks to an Italian newspaper last month. According to a computer-generated translation of the paper's story, Schmidt, talking about competition within the mobile market, said:

In the next six months, we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality.

Suddenly, swoosh! The flood gates were open. Site after site started dropping stories about how the Google Nexus tablet was undoubtedly coming and the mobile tech world would never be the same. 

Let's step back and look at this more closely for a minute, though. First of all, remember that the heavily reprinted Schmidt quote is a translation; those words may or may not even be exactly what he said in English. As we've seen with these sorts of situations before, a couple of choice words reshaped via translation can make a significant difference in how we interpret the speaker's meaning.

Second, even assuming the translation is an accurate representation of what Schmidt said, it doesn't actually indicate anything about plans for a Google-made Nexus tablet. "In the next six months, we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality"? Of course Google does. Google marketed the Motorola Xoom last February. It marketed the Samsung Galaxy Tab at its I/O conference in May. Google makes Android. It's always going to be "marketing a tablet" to show off what its platform can do. And you'd better believe it's gonna view every tablet it markets as one of "the highest quality." What company wouldn't?

"Marketing a tablet," though, is not the same thing as developing a Google-branded Nexus tablet. No one has ever said anything indicating that sort of plan; people just decided to jump to that conclusion on their own. Maybe their guess is right -- hey, it's certainly possible Google could create a Nexus tablet sometime in the foreseeable future -- but at this point, there's simply no firm evidence to back it up.

The Google Nexus Tablet Talk: Problem #2

The next part of my problem with the Google Nexus tablet assumption is the "Kindle Fire killer" twist that's been tacked onto the story today. This part of the tale comes courtesy of the crew at Digitimes, a Taiwanese newspaper with a very spotty track record of factual accuracy.

In a story posted this morning, Digitimes said:

As Google reportedly may launch an own-brand tablet PC to compete against Apple's iPad, sources from Google's upstream supply chain believe that Google, instead of Apple, may actually be targeting Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire as its major competitor. However, Google Taiwan commented that the company has never heard about plan of launching own-brand tablet PC.

Whoa, Charley -- hang on there. Look at that paragraph closely: "As Google reportedly may launch an own-branded tablet PC..." In other words, the entire hypothesis of the paper's unnamed sources is based on a major assumption -- you know, the one we just finished breaking down. Combine that with the fact that Digitimes is wrong as often as it's right (not to mention Google's contradiction of the claim in the very same paragraph), and this is a shaky bit of scuttlebutt if I've ever seen one.

Digitimes itself goes on to recognize the huge leap its sources are making in their guesswork, noting that the vague nature of Schmidt's remarks has "left many players to believe that Google will copy its strategy from [the] Nexus smartphone" line.

The Google Nexus Tablet: Grounding Ourselves in Reality 

For the record, I hope Google is making a Nexus Android tablet. It'd be an interesting and potentially important addition to the tablet market. My point, though, is that the entire existence of the Nexus tablet notion is currently based on some serious conjecture. Let's not forget that.

It's easy to get caught up in the increasingly certain-sounding headlines the blogosphere spews out -- but at the end of the day, remember: Just as I don't have the

Android Power Twitter

information to definitively say the Nexus tablet guess is wrong, no one reporting the story has the information to say it's right. A guess is a guess. Take it for what it is, and let's not let this rumor spiral out of control in the style of a certain other tech company.    

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Article copyright 2012 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

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