Google to give all I/O attendees a tablet, phone and Q cloud streaming device

The roughly 6,000 I/O attendees will walk away with some shiny new hardware

It's hard to one-up skydivers flying into a tech conference while being live-streamed through Google's computerized glasses. But Google's Vic Gundotra might have done that when he told developers that they would be leaving Google I/O with the just-announced Nexus 7 tablet and Nexus Q home streaming device, as well as a Galaxy Nexus 3 smartphone.

The products would cost nearly US$850 to buy at retail, slightly less than a full-price ticket for the three-day event, which is being attended by close to 6,000 developers.

Developers are the lifeblood of a platform like Android, and Google wants to make it as easy as possible for them to start building applications for the new hardware. It may also hope to curry some favor among its developer base, who tend to make less money per user from its platform than developers building for Apple's iOS, according to one study.

Google called the giveaway bonanza an "Android developer pack." When asked for reaction, one developer screamed, "Yeah!!"

Jonathan Bruck, with Pocket, expressed excitement that Google had entered the tablet market with a device whose specs will ostensibly allow it to compete with the iPad. The Apple device dominates the tablet market, which is to reach 119 million units this year, nearly doubling from 2011, according to an estimate from Gartner.

It's not unusual for tech firms to give away hardware at conferences, and Google itself often does it. Last year, I/O attendees received the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a Chromebook. At a previous event they were given one of the first prototype Android smartphones.

Cameron Scott covers search, web services and privacy for The IDG News Service. Follow Cameron on Twitter at CScott_IDG.

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