Google, Inc. will sell its first tablet from mid-July for $199, hoping to replicate its smartphone success in a hotly contested market now dominated by Amazon.com, Inc.'s Kindle Fire and Apple, Inc.'s iPad.
The "Nexus 7" tablet, built by and co-branded with Taiwan's Asus, was one of several gadgets unveiled at its annual developers' conference on Wednesday, as the Internet search and advertising leader dips its toe into the intensively competitive consumer arena.
The announcement of the new tablet comes a month after Google acquired its own hardware-making capabilities with the $12.5 billion acquisition of smartphone maker Motorola Mobility.
Sold initially only on the Google Play online store, its $199 price tag and 7-inch stature is aimed squarely at the Fire, but the Nexus has a front-facing camera while Amazon's tablet does not.
Analysts consider the Fire a window into Amazon.com's trove of online content rather than an iPad rival, given the $499 that Apple asks for a device with a "retina" display that far outstrips it in terms of resolution.
Google can similarly use the Nexus 7 to connect to its own online offerings, which include YouTube and Google Play, the name of its online store where it sells digital music, movies and games. It will go after more cost-conscious users who might shun the pricier iPad.
"Nexus 7 is an ideal device for reading books. The form factor and weight are just right," said Chris Yerga, Google director of engineering for Android.
The new software delivers faster performance, according to the company, and new features such as "voice search."
The Nexus will feature the new 4.1 "Jelly Bean" version of Google's software, as well as a front-facing camera, a 1280x800 resolution screen, and an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor.
Google's free Android software is the No. 1 operating system for smartphones, with about 1 million Android devices getting activated every day. But it has struggled to compete with Apple's iPad in the market for tablets, largely because it lags far behind Apple and Amazon in terms of available content and tablet-specific applications, such as games.