Google Inc said it would sell its Nexus 7 handheld computers in Japan, where annual shipments of tablet devices are forecast to triple to 11 million units in five years.
The 7-inch tablet, featuring the latest version of the Android operating system called Jelly Bean, will be available from ￥19,800 (US$254), Google said in a statement on its Japanese Web site yesterday. Google, which unveiled the product three months ago, has been offering it in the US since July for US$199.
The Nexus 7, which is made in partnership with Taiwan’s Asustek Computer Inc (華碩), has a front-facing camera and runs on a Tegra 3 processor from Nvidia Corp.
The operator of the world’s largest Internet search engine is stepping up its challenge to Apple Inc in the tablet market, which is estimated to reach US$78.7 billion this year, from US$44.9 billion last year, according to DisplaySearch.
In Japan, shipments of tablet devices, including electronic book readers, may jump to 11 million units in 2017, from 3.1 million in the year ended March 31, MM Research Institute Ltd in Tokyo estimates.
Shares of Google rose to a record on Monday amid optimism about its growth prospects from online advertising revenue. The shares gained 2.1 percent to US$749.38 at the close in New York, the highest since its initial public offering in August 2004. The stock has advanced 16 percent this year.
Google is benefiting from rising demand for its advertising products, including search, display and mobile. The company is expected to become the leader in the US for display advertising this year, including banner ads, replacing Facebook Inc, according to EMarketer Inc.
The shares got a boost from a Citigroup note advising investors that the Google stock price could “rise significantly in the 12 months ahead.”
Citigroup raised its target for Google to US$850 from US$740.
Meanwhile, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said it would be up to Apple to approve the company’s map application for Apple’s operating system after the iPhone maker’s own app was criticized by reviewers.
“We haven’t done anything yet with Google Maps,” Schmidt told reporters in Tokyo yesterday.
Apple would “have to approve it. It’s their choice,” Schmidt said, declining to say if Google submitted an application to Apple for sale through its App Store.
New mapping software Apple introduced with the iPhone 5 was criticized by technology gadget reviewers, who said it doesn’t provide directions for public transportation and sometimes gets confused when navigating users.