Google expected to unveil $199 tablet tomorrow

Apple’s competitors have been extremely busy over the past few weeks. Last Monday, Microsoft announced their all-new Surface tablet. And a few days later, it showed off Windows Phone 8.

Tomorrow, Google is rumored to be making a major announcement of its own. The company’s I/O developer conference starts this week, and Google is largely expected to kick things off by unveiling a new tablet…

Bloomberg reports:

“Google Inc. (GOOG) plans to unveil a $199 tablet co-branded with Taiwan’s Asustek COmputer Inc. at its developers conference this week, taking direct aim at Apple Inc. (AAOL)’s iPad, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The 7-inch tablet running Android mobile software will be shown at the Google I/O conference, starting today in San Francisco, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The device will also showcase new features of Android, according to one person, who said the latest version of the software is named Jellybean.”

After two years of losing ground to Apple in the tablet market, Google has long been rumored to be getting into the business for itself. Third-party Android slates have thus far been unable to gain much traction with consumers.

But at 7-inches, Google’s tablet sounds more like a Kindle Fire competitor, than a direct shot at the iPad. And at $199, you wouldn’t think that it would be packed with very many high-end components.

Regardless, the idea of a $199 Google-branded tablet is interesting. Especially combined with Microsoft’s recent announcement. They’re a little late, but it’s good to see the big dogs finally getting into the tablet game.

If nothing else this will help spur some friendly competition, and perhaps push Apple to take more risks with its tablet line (7-inch iPad anyone?). It’ll certainly be interesting to see what the market looks like in 6 months.

Google’s keynote is scheduled to start at 9:30 am PST tomorrow. And as usual, we’ll be sure to pass along anything of interest. Stay tuned.