Rumors have been swirling for weeks that Apple's working on a smaller version of the iPad (insert iPod touch jokes here) to compete with Amazon's lower cost Kindle Fire device, but maybe we've been led astray. Maybe Apple has no intentions of releasing a 7-inch iPad -- Steve Jobs always scoffed at the idea anyway -- and perhaps it's Google, not Apple, who will ultimately fight Fire with, well, something.
Sounds crazy -- and maybe it is -- but according to DigiTimes and its upstream supply chain sources, Google is interested in making a run with its own brand tablet. This isn't the first we've heard of this, though instead of targeting Apple's iPad device, DigiTimes says Google may actually be going after Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire.
This isn't as far out of left field as it sounds (not yet, anyway). Google's Eric Schmidt has already revealed that his company plans to launch a high quality tablet PC within the next six months, and the speculation has been that it would be an extension of its Nexus line into tablet territory. Smaller size tablets are quickly becoming vogue, both because they more easily double as an eReader and also because they're less expensive to manufacture and sell.
According to DigiTimes and its sources, Google could launch its own brand 7-inch tablet in March or April with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for less than $199. Sounds awfully ambitious to us, so excuse us if we swallow this rumor with a sea of salt.