The wait is almost over: MoDaCo has learned through an anonymous source that Asus is ramping up manufacturing of a Google Nexus 7 with 3G connectivity. The new version of Google’s popular tablet will reportedly launch in about six weeks.
The current Nexus 7 model only sports a WiFi radio, and costs $200 for the 8GB model and $250 for the 16GB model. If MoDaCo’s source checks out, the only difference that we’re going to see with the Nexus 7 is the compatibility with 3G, while other hardware will reportedly remain unchanged.
The Nexus 7, despite being strictly a WiFi-only device, has sold quickly, with the 16GB device selling out during its first weekend on sale. Reports state that Google was unprepared for the demand and had not projected to sell as many devices as it did.
Google has not yet released official data about the number of devices sold, but in the first five weeks alone, Gartner estimated that between 1 million and 1.5 million units were sold. An educated analysis by Tech-Thoughts puts the total sales of the Galaxy Nexus 7 at between 6 million and 8 million units by the end of 2012. In comparison, the Kindle Fire had sold approximately 5 million units, according to analyst estimates.
With Apple’s still-rumored iPad Mini’s debut projected to occur in October, two new Kindle Fires purported to be announced on September 6, the Lenovo IdeaTab on shelves, and a new Nook expected to be unveiled in late September, the 7-inch tablet space has quickly filled with competitors that could chip away at the Nexus 7’s existing market share.
If the report of a 3G Nexus 7 is true, the device should arrive well before the holiday shopping season, which should help Google regain its competitiveness even after the slew of unannounced devices by its competitors hit retail shelves. Ideally for Google, customers who initially shied away from the WiFi-only Nexus 7 will return and make the purchase. That said, the alleged six-week time frame would fall on a date uncomfortably close to the iPad Mini announcement, which could spell trouble when it comes to Nexus 7 sales, if customers decide to postpone their Nexus 7 purchase to see what the iPad Mini has to offer.