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Monday, December 19, 2011, 08:56 am PT (11:56 am ET)

Google promises to release 'tablet of the highest quality' in 6 months

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has teased that his company plans to release an Android-powered "Nexus" tablet within the next six months to take on Apple's market leading iPad.

Schmidt's comments, in which he said the device will be "a tablet of the highest quality," came in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera (via Slash Gear). The comments signal that Google plans to make another push to counter Apple's iPad.

Google's first formal attempt to break into the tablet market came earlier this year with the Motorola Xoom, which ran a tablet-exclusive operating system in Android 3.0. But the Xoom failed to catch on while Apple continued to see record sales of the iPad.

The latest version of the Android, dubbed "Ice Cream Sandwich," unites Honeycomb, the tablet-specific variant of the mobile operating system, with Gingerbread, which was designed for smartphones. It debuted last month on the Galaxy Nexus smartphone.

The Nexus branding is used by Google to highlight "pure" Android devices that ship with the stock version of the operating system. Though Google championed Motorola's Xoom at launch, it did not gain the Nexus branding.

Xoom


Android tablets have struggled thus far, and even failed to outsell HP's discontinued TouchPad, which saw its sales bolstered by a $99 fire sale. Recent reports have suggested that Amazon's Kindle Fire, which runs a heavily modified version of Android and grants users access to Amazon's own application store, has taken the number two spot in tablet sales since it debuted last month.

Schmidt also confirmed in the interview that Google plans to leverage its own voice recognition technology to compete with Apple's Siri, found in the iPhone 4S. One rumor published last week claimed that Google is preparing its own voice assistant, code-named "Majel," to counter Siri.