Falling in line with recent rumor and speculation across the blogosphere, a report by the Wall Street Journal notes that Google is readying the release of a tablet for some time this year.

In what would be the latest attempt at competing with Apple’s domineering iPad device, the web’s number one company is said to be looking to market and sell tablets directly to consumers through some form of online store. Citing the clichéd "sources familiar with the matter", the WSJ believes the Big G will retail the device in a similar way to that of not only Apple, but also Amazon with its Kindle range.

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Although Android hasn’t exactly struggled on the smartphone front, Apple has rather embarrassingly controlled the tablet market, and even though the Kindle Fire did cause a bit of a stir prior to its late-2011 release, the actual product was reflective of the sub-$200 price bracket.

Of course, although the tablets will have the Google name on them, the company won’t be responsible for the manufacturing process. Korean LCD specialist Samsung is likely to play a significant role from a hardware perspective, as has been the case with some of the Google-branded smartphones hitherto. Tying in nicely with rumors, the WSJ report also names Taiwan-based outfit ASUS as a prospective partner – something we’ve seen and heard on more than one occasion now.

Further details regarding an actual release frame and specifics of the online store remain unknown. The sources did add that Android Jelly Bean (5.0) will land in the middle of this year, which also somewhat corroborates our report last week of a Q3 release.

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As you’d probably expect, neither a Google nor ASUS spokesperson would comment on proceedings, but the tipster had plenty to say. We heard earlier this month that a Google-ASUS tablet was, for all essential purposes, a "done deal", with a $249 price bracket directly competing with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The insider seems to subscribe to this notion, and believes Google is looking to subsidize the cost of future devices in order to increase appeal.

Let’s just hope it fares better than the hapless Nexus One, which didn’t last too long before disappearing a couple of years ago.

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