Is Google prepping a $99 Nexus 7 tablet?

Google’s $200 Nexus 7 may have taken the Android tablet market by storm, but Mountain View clearly isn’t finished yet.

Indeed, Google and Asus are reportedly prepping a $99 Nexus 7 tablet that could hit virtual store shelves sometime later this year. 

According to DigiTimes, the pair of industry heavyweights are working on two new versions of the device, both of which are expected to utilize panels manufactured by HannStar display.

“One of the models will be priced at US$199 while the other will be priced at US$99, and both models are expected to hit markets by the end of 2012,” the report claimed.

As AppleInsider’s Sam Oliver notes, Google’s rumored sub-$100 tablet is likely targeted at Apple’s so-called “iPad mini” which Cupertino may launch in October. 

The $99 Nexus 7 tablet will also pose a challenge to Amazon’s new lineup of HD Kindle Fires, as well as B&N’s Nook HD. The latter device is priced at $269 for a 16-gigabyte model and $199 for the 8-gigabyte iteration.

However, as Nicole Scott of MobileGeeks notes, the display is the “biggest differentiator” when it comes to tablets dropping into the above-mentioned price range. 

“It’s certainly going to be interesting to see what HannStar Display comes up with, as they are the rumored supplier. It’s a very interesting play since $99 is often thought of as the magic price point that makes purchase decisions far less difficult for consumers,” said Scott.

“[And remember], the Mini iPad is also rumored to be hitting the street for the holiday season at a $249 price point, the game is afoot, so let’s see how Apple does when it faces some stiff competition.”