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Pictures: Google getting ready to launch a tablet?

Google Tablet prototype pics on ChromeOS website

Google could be poised to go head-to-head with Apple (again) by launching a tablet, if this images are anything to go by.

The picture, which is one of a number that have recently surfaced on Google's ChomeOS User Experience page show Google's ChomeOS runing on 5-10 inch tablets.

The soft keyboard bares a striking resemblance to the iPad's, which was launched last week.

Apple's iPad is a slate PC that looks like a big iPhone. It has a home button and an alumminium bezel like an Apple MacBook.

The 9.7in, 4:3 touchscreen is made of glass. It's only half an inch thick, and weighs just 680g (about half a smallish laptop).

It contains a 1GHz Apple A4 chip, which is both processor and graphics, along with 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity, an accelerometer and compass, speaker, microphone and 30-pin connector.

The Apple iPad will come with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of flash solid state storage.

It will be interesting to see if Google and their partners can come through with these on time and on spec.

Apple, as of March, will have a head start in this space but Apple actually relies on Google for its mapping, Youtube and search functions on the iPhone and iPod.

Rumours began surfacing last year that Google was planning to launch branded netbooks, but since the tablet has taken off this year, with the likes of HP and Dell also unveiling devices, its possible the search-engine has turned its attentions to this market instead.

Both Google and Apple are rivals in the smartphone market, where Apple's iPhone goes head-to-head with handsets that use Google's Android platform, such as the T-Mobile G1 and the recently launched Nexus One.

They also have rival web browsers; Google's Chrome goes head-to-head with Apple's Safari, and competiting OS's.

Steve Jobs recently said that Google's "Don't be evil is actually BS" at a Town Hall meeting and said Google's Android wanted to kill the iPhone.

Recently the iPhone had an off quarter, slowing adoption rates to fewer than last months new customers. Most of that blame is on Android for and for Apple not producing enough handsets.

But really it is all competition, which in the end is better for customers anyway.

The battle between Google and Apple has just begun.

See also: Google Chrome market share surges to 5.2%

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