Google is gearing up to sell a tablet branded under the company's name through an online store, the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday. The move would mark a drastic departure from the way Google currently handles tablets and mobile devices running its Android OS, which are made, marketed and sold by other manufacturers, including Samsung and Asus.
The Journal's report, coinciding with earlier rumors, also states that Google "has considered subsidizing" the cost of the tablets for consumers, putting it closer in price to Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire tablet (which is, incidentally, powered by Google's Android OS) than Apple's $399 entry-level iPad 2.
The report also follows Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's comments in December 2011 to an Italian newspaper (translated by Slashgear) that a Google-branded tablet "of the highest quality" would be released within the next 6 months, putting it at about a mid-2012 date.
Combined with earlier reports that Google was preparing this year to release a home entertaiment system and augmented reality glasses, it would seem that 2012 could be a milestone for Google's hardware ambitions.