Google to open online tablet store

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Google to open online tablet store

May co-brand, subsidise device costs.

Google is planning to open an online store to sell tablet PCs directly to consumers, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

The online store would offer tablets made by Samsung Electronics and Asustek Computer based on Google's Android software, according to the report, which cited anonymous sources and which Reuters was not able to confirm. Google declined to comment.

Google briefly sold a specially-designed Android smartphone - the Nexus One - directly to consumers in 2010, but closed the store after four months saying it had not lived up to expectations.

Google now relies on retail and carrier partners to sell Android smartphones made by a variety of handset makers and Android has become the world's No.1 smartphone operating system, ahead of iPhone-maker Apple.

But Apple still dominates the market for touch-screen tablet computers with its two-year old iPad.

Amazon.com's $US199 Kindle Fire tablet is based on open-source Android computer code, but the device features a customised interface that does not use many Google services.

Google may co-brand some of the tablets sold through the store and has considered subsidising the cost of future tablets to make them more competitive with the Kindle Fire, according to the Journal report. It is unclear when Google plans to open the store.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; editing by Andre Grenon)

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