If rumours are right, new 8-inch tablets could soon be joining the Android Nexus and Windows RT camps to take on Apple's iPad mini in the hot sub-8-inch tablet market.
Google is quickly gaining a reputation for letting images of its new products slip through in marketing material. The Nexus 5 debuted in an early KitKat promo and yesterday a previously unseen Nexus 7-like tablet with a thinner bezel than the current 2013 model appearing on the Android KitKat apps and entertainment page.
Will Google release a Nexus without a front-facing camera?
Google has now removed the mystery device and replaced it with details of the already available Nexus 7. The theory goes that the new device could be a slightly larger version of the tablet, known as the Nexus 8.
The difference between the Nexus 7 and what's thought to be the Nexus 8 can only be seen in the more compact bezels of the device, but if the theories are correct, it looks like Google could do away with the front-facing camera, which on the Nexus 7 sits in the top right hand corner of the device.
Who will make the Nexus 8?
Which OEM would make the Nexus 8 or whatever other sized device this turns out to be? Will Asus be tasked with making both the Nexus 7 and 8? Or perhaps Samsung, LG or another Android OEM?
Samsung makes the Nexus 10, Google's full-size tablet which is expected to be refreshed soon, as well as the Galaxy Nexus, so it's clearly a favourite with Google.
However, the 2012 Nexus 7's design was based on a MeMo device by Asus. Last month, Asus released a new iteration of the product, the MeMO Pad 8, which could theoretically be used to underpin the Nexus 8. However, the picture leaked by Google suggests a very different looking device.
Nokia joins the 8-inch race with Windows 8.1 RT 'Illusionist'
Yesterday, the Evleaks Twitter account — known for its good track record on device leaks — revealed that Nokia is planning to launch an 8-inch tablet next year.
Not much is known about the tablet, but reports suggest it will be a Windows RT 8.1 device running a Qualcomm processor. That much, like the codename itself, chimes with Nokia's first foray into the tablet market, the 2520.
The 2520 was launched at Nokia World last month, but has yet to hit the shelves. The 10.1-inch slate, which also runs RT and features a 2.25GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor, will go on sale before the end of the year.
Who wants them?
So why the two big names' sudden interest in the 8-inch segment?
Apple has already proved there's a demand for more minuscule devices: around a year after the form factor was launched, it's thought to now account for around one in five of every iPads in use and 60 percent of all iPads sold in the most recent quarter.
In general, sales of the smaller tablets are currently outpacing shipments of traditional 9-inch and over tablets, and according to a recent survey by analysts Gartner, almost half of tablet owners have a device that's 8-inches or less — which "confirmed Gartner's long-standing assumption that smaller is better when it comes to consumer tablets", the company said.
A high-resolution 8-inch Nexus that undercuts the new iPad mini Retina could be an attractive pitch to buyers on Google's side, while a similarly sized device would allow Nokia to beef up its nascent tablet line up — especially with the move to Microsoft on the cards, a known fan of smaller slates.