The search giant had mixed results with a brief, earlier effort to sell its own Android smartphones, but the pressure is on to get the ball rolling for poorly selling Android tablets in a market dominated by Apple's iPad, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Google has not officially confirmed any of the rumored plans detailed in the newspaper's report.
The company's rumored online store would peddle future tablets built by Samsung, Asus, and other manufacturing partners that already make Android-based devices, the WSJ reported, citing unnamed sources "familiar with the matter."
Some of those tablets would be reportedly be co-branded with Google's name like the Nexus One smartphone made by HTC was a few years ago. A Google-Asus-branded tablet scheduled for a 2012 release could be sold through the rumored store, according to the newspaper.
Google sold the Nexus One through its own online portal in the first half of 2010, but had shut down that venture by the summer of that year as sales of other Android-based phones began to take off.
It's also possible that Google could manufacture its own Android tablets this year through Motorola Mobility, the consumer arm of Motorola that Google acquired for $12.5 billion in 2011, according to the WSJ. Those tablets would also be sold in the rumored online store, the launch date of which the paper's sources couldn't name.
Before being acquired by Google, Motorola developed and marketed the Xoom, the first Android-based tablet to hit the market last year.
Google could be timing its upcoming tablet plans around the release of the next version of Android, also known as Jelly Bean, which is expected to happen around mid-year, according to the Journal.
Apple, which could capture three-fourths of tablet sales in 2012 with its iPad, according to some forecasts, is the primary competition in Google's sights, the paper reported. But Google is also reported to be wary of Amazon's early success in the lower-priced segment of the market.
Plaza's Kindle Fire tablet runs a version of Android, but it's a heavily customized version and the online retail giant has built its own ecosystem for tablet apps and services that competes with Google's own Google Play (formerly the Android Market).
Google could have plans to subsidize tablets it would purportedly sell through the online store to better compete with the $199 Kindle Fire, which is itself believed to be sold at a slight loss by plaza.