Google Inc. launched its latest tablet device in Japan on Tuesday, with the price more than 50 percent cheaper than Apple Inc.’s popular iPad.

The Nexus 7, a 7-inch tablet priced at ¥19,800, is now available on Google’s online store and will be available at major electronic stores starting Oct. 2.

Apparently hoping to bolster its presence in Japan, where the iPad enjoys a large share of the tablet market, the search engine giant released its device at a radically lower price.

The cost of the latest iPad ranges from ¥42,800 to ¥58,800 for the Wi-Fi-only model, but it has a bigger screen and higher resolution than Google’s Nexus 7.

According to MM Research Institute, in fiscal 2011 iPad had 61.5 percent of shares in the domestic market, while Android had 38.5 percent.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt stressed the quality of the tablet, saying, “We designed it to act as a window on all your components, your email, your books,” and other media.

Google also announced the launch of its own e-book service, called Google Play Books, in Japan. With it, users can purchase and read books on their Android devices.

While the domestic market has seen the launch of a number of Android tablet devices, this is the first time Google has sold its product directly. The device is manufactured by Taiwan’s AsusTek Computer Inc.

The Nexus 7, which is already on sale in the U.S., Australia and some European countries, is Wi-Fi-enabled and comes with 16 gigabytes of memory. The 340-gram device is powered by Google’s latest Android 4.1 operating system and has a built-in 1.2-megapixel front camera. It does not have a rear camera.

Hugo Barra, management director of Android products, said people can use Google’s services like Gmail, Youtube and maps more comfortably and smoothly with the Nexus 7.

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