Remind me: Why do we want a Nexus 11 tablet?

New tablets are generally smaller than 8 inches, so what gives? Analysts say the bigger tablets could prove popular for some

Samsung and Google are reportedly building a Nexus 11 tablet with an 11-in. display that runs Samsung's octa-core processor and will be released this year, according to the Samsung tech site SamMobile.

The report isn't unexpected, since Samsung already builds the 10-in. Android 4.2-based Nexus 10 (with a 10-in. display) for Google. The Nexus 10 was announced last Oct. 29.

Some analysts suggest that the Nexus 11 could launch late in 2013 and run the expected Android 5.0 OS update.

Google and Samsung would not comment on the Nexus 11 report.

Some observers would ask why Samsung and Google would bother with an 11-in. tablet since the clear industry trend is toward smaller, sub-8-in. models?

Samsung and Google already produce a Nexus 7 tablet at 7-inches.

The answer is fairly simple, according to analysts. As the tablet market mushrooms, there is room for devices of many sizes.

"Even though the tablet market is going to sub-8 inches, there's [sales] opportunity for larger sized tablets," commented Bob O'Donnell, an IDC analyst.

A prime candidate for a larger device is the home user who sits on a sofa and uses a tablet while watching TV, O'Donnell said.

In that scenario, the tablet can be used as a remote control device for a TV and DVR, and/or to surf the Web for information about products and programs on TV.

Yahoo's IntoNow tablet app can be used to listen to TV audio and find connections to Web sites related to TV programming or advertisements, he noted.

"There's a huge number of people in the 'second screen' model where they use a tablet on the sofa in front of the TV," O'Donnell said. "It's the old interactive TV model."

IDC has forecast that 11-in. to 12-in. tablets will make up a small portion of the overall tablet market in 2013. The researcher estimates that about 2.5 million devices of that size will ship this year. The 11-in. to 12-in. devices will account for 1.3% of 191 million tablets expected to ship in 2013, IDC said in a recent report.

Meanwhile, sub-8-in. tablets will dominant the market in 2013, with 99 million shipped -- or about 52% of the market, IDC said.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said even with a trend toward the smaller tablets, the the larger-screen devices will still be preferable for both content consumption and content creation tasks and the use of an external keyboard and possibly a mouse.

"Bigger tablets maybe show strength in markets that prefer more clarity and bigger screen size over portability, like some work situations," Gold said.

O'Donnell said it isn't surprising that Samsung would work with Google on a tablet with a larger screen size, as it already supports a variety of screen sizes.

On Monday, Samsung announced the 7.1-in. Galaxy Tab 3. which will compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Apple's 7.9-in. mini iPad.

Samsung already has 7-in., 8.9-in. and 10.1-in. tablets in the Galaxy Tab line, each of which runs Samsung's implementation of Android.

The Nexus line is considered pure Android, without third party interface changes and applications that Android purists don't like. Nexus products also focus on keeping data in the cloud.

"Nexus is primarily for gearheads, but some people are looking for that," O'Donnell said.

"As the tablet market matures and grows, you will find more niches created and more niches being filled," O'Donnell said. "Even if the 11-in. market is less than 2%, that's a lot and it becomes a respectable sized market to go after."

SamMobile said it learned about the Nexus 11 from Samsung, but did not identify its source within th ecompany. The site also said Samsung revealed plans for a Galaxy Tab DUOS 7.0 tablet with a dual SIM, a Galaxy Tab 8.0, and a Galaxy Tab 11, which would run a dual core A15 processor.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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