Google unveils Nexus 7; can the $199 tablet find a place in enterprise?

Nine days after Microsoft unveiled Surface, Google unveiled a tablet of its own in the Nexus 7. As the name implies, the tablet features a 7-inch screen, unlike the 10-inch displays on the Surface and Apple’s iPad. The new tablet is built by Asus and is powered by the latest version of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean.

The Nexus 7 is set to ship in mid-July and will cost only $199. In addition to an identical price and a similar, minimalist design, the Nexus 7 will directly compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire as a device mainly purposed for content consumption. However, while the Nexus 7 and the Fire are alike on the surface (pun not intended), beneath the hood the Nexus makes the Fire seem wimpy.

While the Fire is powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor, the Nexus 7 features a quad-core Tegra 3 system on a chip with a 12-core graphics processor, 8GB of storage space and 1GB of RAM. It is a tiny beast.

The Nexus 7 also features an HD display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 HD. It packs only one camera, a front-facing, 1.2MP lens, but does include an NFC chip, which Android 4.1 makes use of for quick photo sharing or device pairing by simply tapping devices together. The device is said to have 8 hours of battery life during “active use.”

A 16GB version of the tablet will also be available for $249.

With a price of $199, there is a good chance that the Nexus 7 could unseat the Fire as the best-selling Android tablet on the market. Many bought the Fire on impulse because of its $199 price tag. And with double the processing power, a much more powerful GPU and the fact that this is an official Google product, many will find the Nexus 7 hard to turn down.

Though it’s clear this is a device meant mainly for consumers, intedend for watching video, reading books etc., I’ll be interested in seeing if Google is able to entice any in the enterprise space with the Nexus 7. As I blogged about last week after the Surface announcment, Apple has a considerable lead in enterprise, something that Microsoft has a good shot at getting a piece of thanks to its Office suite of apps.

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But what about Android? At $199, the Nexus 7 is cheap enough for companies to pull the trigger on a mass purchase, and powerful enough to drive any number of useful apps. Plus, at 7 inches, the Nexus 7 can be stashed in a back pocket, making it much more convenient on a job site.

But the real problem facing any Android device though is that those apps just aren’t there. While the App Store now features more than 225,000 apps built for iPad, the Android Market only has a few hundred (if that) apps built for tablets.

Hopefully, a device like the Nexus 7 will light a fire beneath Android developers to begin producing these apps and we’ll begin to be able to experiement with Android devices in the workplace.