TOKYO: Google said Tuesday it was launching its Nexus 7 tablet computer in Japan, aiming to take on Apple's iPad in one of the most lucrative markets in the world.
The Nexus 7's 16 gigabyte model, powered by the latest generation of Android software is available to order at Google Play starting Tuesday and will hit store shelves on October 2.
Priced at 19,800 yen ($255), it comes in around half the price of the lowest spec third generation iPad available in Japan.
Speaking at an event at a Tokyo hotel, executive chairman Eric Schmidt said the rapid-fire growth of its Android operating system would help Google's seven-inch tablet catch on in Japan.
“Android has grown so fast it's hard to keep up,” he said. “There are now more than 500 million Android users around the world.”
A survey Google conducted showed 75 per cent of Japanese smartphone owners use their devices for shopping, he noted.
“That points us to the next enormous growth business in Japan,” he said, adding there was “a new wealth that can be created around the Japanese shopping experience”.
Google's Android operating system is the mainstay for many of Apple's rivals in the lucrative smartphone industry, growing rapidly around the globe.
In a bold, and expensive, move to tap into that growth, Google itself paid over $12 billion to buy the Motorola Mobility handset business.
But that move raised questions over how Google would balance its own mobile device hardware with supplying the operating system for companies that are now rivals in the intensely competitive race to catch up with Apple's hit iPhone.
Google has launched Nexus 7 in other markets such as Australia, Canada, Britain, and the United States.