Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) is nothing if not determined to slice off a share of Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) dominance of the market for personal media. At the company’s I/O developer’s conference today, Google released an updated version of its Android operating system, code-named ‘Jelly Bean’, its 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet, a streaming media device the company has dubbed the ‘Nexus Q’, and more variety in its existing Google Play entertainment store.
The device that will get the most ink (pixels?) is the Nexus 7 tablet that includes a Tegra-3 chipset from Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA), a 12-core graphics processor, and a 1280×800 HD display. The entry level Nexus 7 retails for $199. No company has been very successful at denting Apple’s iPad whirlwind, although the Kindle Fire from Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) could sell nearly 15 million units this year. Apple sold nearly 12 million iPads in the first quarter alone.
Google starts in a big hole with its Nexus 7 tablet, but the Nexus Q streaming device is really the first of kind. The Nexus Q is intended to make audio and video streaming social. The device is connected to external speakers or a TV set, and then anyone with an Android-based phone or tablet can add a song or video to the Nexus Q for the whole group to enjoy. It’s sort of a cloud-based jukebox.
A cool idea, but at $299, the Nexus Q may be a bit pricey. And support is limited to Google Play, YouTube, or the owner’s own songs and videos. By way of comparison, a Sonos Play:3 device costs the same amount and provides access to various music streaming services, like Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI), Pandora Inc. (NYSE: P), and Spotify. Another difference: the Sonos device does not allow a user to connect to external speakers. User’s choice.
Google’s tenacity in attacking Apple on every front could pay off someday, but the Nexus 7 is not likely to knock Apple off its perch at the top of the tablet heap and the Nexus Q, essentially the first device of its kind, is going to need a sizeable marketing push if it’s going to catch on. All in all, not a bad day for Google, but not a great one either.