Google Tablet to Menace iPad?

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Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) chairman Eric Schmidt says his company will launch a new tablet PC in 2012. The product will run on the firm’s Android OS mobile platform. Google likely will struggle with the product, much the same as it did with its Nexus One smartphone. That product line launched and was discontinued in 2010. Google is not a hardware company. It should leave hardware products to those firms with the backgrounds to create them.

There is an impression that, as Google buys Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI), the search company will instantly become adroit at hardware design and sales. Motorola has been barely successful in the world of smartphones. Its Xoom tablet PC was a failure.

Google has had such a tremendous success with Android that it is not worth the risk of releasing its own tablet.

Google has a number of Android hardware proxies in the field. First among these are Samsung and HTC products. Each has launched several Android-based smartphones. Some of these have been particularly successful because they run on next-generation 4G super-fast wireless broadband. The Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone and iPad do not have that network capability.

Google’s own tablet will create tension with its best Android customers. They can ask why Google would challenge their sales when they are its allies in the effort to spread the use of Android to further its lead over the Apple OS, Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry OS, and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows mobile OS.

Google has no business in the tablet PC business. This move is a risk, both because it creates unnecessary tension with customers and because it could be high-profile failure that would tarnish Google’s reputation.

Douglas A. McIntyre