WePad Android Tablet Arrives, Google Plans iPad-Killer

Google Inc. and Apple Inc. continue to play in each others’ sandboxes. The latest is a report that Google will likely continue its foray into branded CPE with a new Android-based tablet, which will, of course, directly take on the iPad.

Meanwhile, official details about the WePad have surfaced, which is an Android tablet that will be brought to market in Germany beginning this summer. The device will be very, very similar to the iPad (even down to the name!), but will, unlike the Apple gadget, support Flash and offer a camera, for starters.

The New York Times broke the first part of the story; apparently Google CEO Eric Schmidt let the cat out of the bag at an L.A. cocktail party, saying that the search giant is exploring the idea of launching its own branded tablet. The Times was able to find other inside sources that backed up the information.

“People with direct knowledge of the project – who did not want to be named because they said they were unauthorized to speak publicly about the device – said the company had been experimenting in ‘stealth mode’ with a few publishers to explore delivery of books, magazines and other content on a tablet,” the paper said.

Google doing more hardware is one part of the picture, but there has long been talk about other companies taking the Android operating system from smartphones and netbooks to other devices. There is at least one concrete example of that now.

On Monday, WePad details were released by its makers, Neofonie and 4titoo. The 11.6-inch touchscreen device will boast two USB 2.0 ports, Flash support, a six-hour battery, memory card reader, ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, stereo speakers and optional GPS.

A16GB version will offer integrated Wi-Fi for $611. A 32GB version adds 3G for $774. Preorders start in Germany April 27, with shipping beginning in July.

The movement on the Android tablet front isn’t that surprising; the OS was created to power a range of consumer electronics cost-effectively, and, tablets/e-readers are all the rage thanks to Nook, iPad, Kindle et al.

And, of course, Google and Apple have been throwing down over a lot of different things lately — the Google Nexus One smartphone marked the company’s debut into iPhone-competitor territory. The two reportedly went back and forth over personnel. And, Apple last week took the wraps off of the iAd platform, its own grab for reaping mobile advertising revenue via App Store integration.

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