It’s been a while since we heard from the Nexus Tablet rumor mill, but it looks like its just been restarted by one of the most respected financial reporting firms around. The Wall Street Journal says (in its familiar and maddeningly vague way) that Google will be selling a tablet of its own design and branding later in 2012. Of course the WSJ didn’t reveal any of its sources, and they seem to know about as much as we do at this point – i.e., that there’s nothing official on deck at all, and ASUS is thought to be the most likely candidate for the device’s manufacturer.

All of the rumor and hearsay thus far points to a 7-inch tablet from Google, placing Android 4.0 in direct competition with the likes of the Kindle and the Nook. That would mean that the price would be $200 or less, an achievement requiring relatively low specs and perhaps even a small amount of subsidies. For Google, it might be worth it to┬ácombat┬áthe forked version of Gingerbread that have become standard on the most popular Android tablets out there – they don’t exactly present the best front against the iPad, and manufacturers don’t seem in any hurry to lower the price on more powerful hardware.

We had previously heard that ASUS’ much-anticipated MeMO 370T had been scrapped in favor of a similar model that would become the “Nexus Tablet”, without the expensive NVIDIA Tegra 3 powering it. Neither ASUS nor Google are talking, but everyone else seems to be. A good time to expect the mythical device would be at Google I/O in June, where Google will be showing off the latest and greatest in Android software – and has been known to give away high-profile devices to lucky attendees.

[via The Verge]