Google’s Nexus 7 Hits Japan Ahead of the Curve

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is bringing the Nexus 7 to Japan. Online sales begin September 25 and brick-and-mortar sales on October 2. The device will cost about $254, roughly the same as it does in the United States. The Nexus 7 is a 16 GB, 7-inch tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

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Google’s Android enjoys popularity in Japan’s booming mobile market. “Android has grown so fast it’s hard to keep up,” said CEO Eric Schmidt at the press release. “There are now more than 500 million Android users around the world.” He added that Google determined 75 percent of Japanese smart phone owners shop on their devices, and pointed in that direction for growth. Japan is one of the biggest global markets for digital downloads.

In conjunction with the release, Google is rapidly acquiring Japanese-language content for the device. The Nexus 7 is Google’s attempt at an iPad killer, and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) hasn’t been able to cultivate the same loyal following in Japan as it has in the U.S. partly because of its content offerings. Japan’s publishing houses are notoriously conservative. Google will be selling movies from Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE) and Paramount (NASDAQ:VIA) for the first time from the Google Play store, as well as Japanese-language books.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is also slated to release Kindle products in Japan, but has met some resistance. The company has had difficulties acquiring publishing rights and is entering a slower ebook market. Content is a much more important selling point for the Kindle devices, which lack the technological flourish of the Nexus 7 or iPad.

“Japan is perpetually poised at the leading edge,” noted Schmidt. If the Nexus 7 sees initial success, an increased push for content could make Google the leading tablet provider in Japan. With Apple representing around 64 percent of the tablet market worldwide, Amazon’s new Kindle Fire line hitting shelves soon, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) set to roll out their own device, Google is trying to make moves and get ahead of the game overseas.

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