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Nexus 7 Arrival Incites 7-Inch Tablet Brawl

Apple's 9.7-inch iPad set the gold standard on tablet size. Competitors have offered a variety of different screen sizes, but none have had as much impact as the Google Nexus 7.
Google Nexus 7 Tablet: 10 Coolest Features
Google Nexus 7 Tablet: 10 Coolest Features
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The Google Nexus 7 went on sale last weekend. It was available at some big box retailers across the country as well as through the Google Play Store. Customers who had pre-ordered the device began receiving their shipments as early as Friday, July 13. The Nexus 7 was a hot seller. Some retail outlets reported sellouts of the new tablet.

As of this morning, the Nexus 7 can still be purchased from the Google Play Store, but only the 8GB version. It delivers in three to five business days, according to Google. The 16GB version, however, is MIA. The website says, "Sign up to be notified by email when Nexus 7 (16GB) becomes available."

Part of the tablet's popularity can surely be ascribed to its low price: $199 for the 8GB version and $249 for the 16GB version. That undercuts the market-leading iPad by more than half, and matches the price of other competing products such as the Amazon Kindle Fire.

[ Apple's upcoming iPad Mini is said to be priced to compete with Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. Read more at iPad Mini To Be Priced Competitively. ]

Earlier this week, financial analysts cut sales forecasts for the Amazon Kindle Fire based on the strengths of the Nexus 7. It's barely been in the market a week, and the Nexus 7 is already impacting competitors.

The real battle will commence this fall when Apple launches an iPad with a 7.85-inch display. Though slightly bigger than the Nexus 7, it's safe to say that an iPad with a 7.x-inch display will go head-to-head with the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire.

The Nexus 7's key advantage right now is its price point. The $199 starting price is much more digestible to consumers than the $499 price point of the entry-level iPad. That's why the iPad Mini will have to be priced just right in order to sell against the Nexus 7 and other 7-inch tablets.

Aside from price point and specs, one of the more important factors that will differentiate these devices is the availability of apps. Right now, the Nexus 7 has somewhat limited access to apps, as it runs the newest version of Android, Jelly Bean. Many apps have not yet been optimized to run on Android 4.1.

It will be important for Apple to get the iPad Mini's app story correct right out of the box. Will iPhone apps scale up? Will iPad apps scale down? Will they all just work across the three different form factors?

Though tablets with 7-inch displays have been available since 2010, the smaller size hasn't caught on as much as those with larger displays. This holiday season, that story will be entirely different.

At this year's InformationWeek 500 Conference C-level execs will gather to discuss how they're rewriting the old IT rulebook and accelerating business execution. At the St. Regis Monarch Beach, Dana Point, Calif., Sept. 9-11.