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SALT LAKE CITY — Reports suggest Google will look to give Amazon's Kindle Fire a run for its money later this year when it releases a 7-inch tablet running on Android 4.0 and costing a comparable $199.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt had previously said in an interview with Milan's Corriere della Sera that Google would release "a tablet of the highest quality" in the first half of 2012. Google has repeatedly declined to clarify Schmidt's comments.
Now, though, reports from a DisplaySearch analyst claim the tablet will be released in April and will compete with the Kindle Fire, rather than with Apple's iPad as was once thought.
DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim told CNET the tablet will likely be self-branded and that 1.5 million to 2 million units will initially be produced.
The report comes as rumors of a smaller iPad have come out of Asia, meaning the success of the Kindle Fire could be the reason for Google's new product, despite, with its acquisition of Motorola, its coming ownership of three larger existing tablets: the Xoom, Xoom 2 and Xyboard.
Smaller tablets seem to be the way to go, though: Amazon shipped 5.3 million Fires in the fourth quarter of 2011, second only to the iPad in the tablet market.
The competition between the companies will likely give customers three similarly priced smaller tablets to choose from by the end of 2012.
Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Photo courtesy: concept design for Google tablet, Tony Gil.