We love stories about the history of the tech products we know and love. That's why we find the early iPad and iPhone prototypes so compelling. Now, we get to hear the history behind Google and ASUS' partnership on the $199 Nexus 7 tablet. When did the partnership begin? How did it all go down? A Forbes interview with ASUS' head of UK and Nordic markets Benjamin Yeh provides the juicy details.
"Our top executives met Google's top executives at CES to talk about opportunities and how they saw the future market," Yeh said. "That's when we came up with the idea of the Google Nexus 7 by Asus. That was in January, and mass production started in May." Yeh explained that it typically takes six to twelve months for a manufacturer to take an idea from concept to mass production, but that the Google/ASUS partnership did that in just four months.
ASUS sent "a complete design team" to Google's Mountain View campus, and Google sent seven of its own engineers to work on the Nexus 7, too. "Google wanted hardware that represents the software to the maximum effect," Yeh explained. "So we talked them through the challenges – what you do when you design a device. That conversation kept going, and instead of [addressing the issues] one by one, we had to do it in parallel. So we invested much more than usual on this project in terms of engineering."
The team decided right away that the tablet needed to weigh less than 340 grams and that it needed to be thin, too. The team had to accomplish that goal while including a fast processor, which it why it decided to go with NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 3 chip. LCD displays also add to the thickness of any tablet, so the team created a "special design" called ASUS TruVivid that included two layers instead of the typical four required.
The Nexus 7 has decent battery life and the team didn't just slap a lithium ion battery inside the tablet and call it a day. In fact, it tweaked the circuit board as much as possible to eliminate any heat leakage. "You can detect that by heat generation – that means the system is not efficient: it's losing energy as heat," Yeh said. "So, we have a team of engineers who spent a month just checking every point on the PCB board, and the voltage at every single point and on every component."
Google chose ASUS, over other firms such as HTC, because it has strong retail and component manufacturer relationships around the globe. Those relationships will help ensure that there is a steady stream of parts to meet demand for the tablet.
We're blown away by how quickly two companies can think of, and execute on, a new product. Be sure to read the full Forbes interview for a much deeper dive.