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Google Expected To Delve Into Tablet Computers

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Google will host thousands of Android app developers this week at its annual conference. And there are rumors Google will also unveil its own tablet computer to compete with Apple's iPad.

NPR's Steve Henn has more.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: Last week, Microsoft announced it was getting into the hardware business and unveiled the Surface - its new tablet computer.

Carolina Milanesi, who covers consumer devices at Gartner, says we are seeing a trend.

CAROLINA MILANESI: It points to the tight integration that software and hardware have to have in order to be successful.

HENN: For years, Bill Gates at Microsoft took a totally different view. He concentrated on selling software. And in the late '80s and '90s, Microsoft nearly destroyed Apple this way. And when Google decide to compete against Apple in the smartphone business and create Android, it borrowed Microsoft's old strategy - focus on the software. But in tablets this just isn't working.

ANDY HARGREAVES: And they've been losing on tablets.

HENN: Andy Hargreaves follows the mobile tech business at Pacific Crest Securities. He says Apple's iPad is so far out in front it's getting harder for the competition catch up. Apple sells close to 15 million iPads every three months.

So they can walk into component vendors and say, I will take 15 million of your best parts - and none of Google's partners right now can match that kind of purchasing power. So it makes it really, really difficult for them to compete.

Apple gets the best parts at the best price. Now building one Google-branded tablet may not change that - but it may be the company's best shot at creating a devise that hits it big.

Steve Henn, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Henn is NPR's technology correspondent based in Menlo Park, California, who is currently on assignment with Planet Money. An award winning journalist, he now covers the intersection of technology and modern life - exploring how digital innovations are changing the way we interact with people we love, the institutions we depend on and the world around us. In 2012 he came frighteningly close to crashing one of the first Tesla sedans ever made. He has taken a ride in a self-driving car, and flown a drone around Stanford's campus with a legal expert on privacy and robotics.

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