It’s a known fact Google likes to plan Nexus devices ahead of time, as they require quite a lot of work in order for those pricing sweet spots to be reached. All while not cutting too many corners.

nexus 7 2013 Rumor: Google torn between Asus, LG and HTC for 2014 Nexus 7 tablet

So it’s really no wonder that, even with the second-gen Nexus 10 still kept under wraps and the 2013 N7 out and about for a measly three months, the rumor mill is grinding like crazy as to who will Big G choose as its partner for the third generation of the wildly successful 7-inch Nexus.

Will it be for the third time in a row Asus? Will Samsung be downgraded (though it will sure feel like an upgrade) from the 10-inch “pure Google tab”? Will LG get a shot at Nexus slates in addition to phones? Or will an outsider like Lenovo or HTC be invited in?

Right off the bat, a little warning: don’t expect a clear-cut, carved in stone answer until the very last minute. That being said, if we are to believe sources close to Taiwan publication Commercial Times, the shortlist includes three names, of which Google is truly in a pickle to choose only one.

There’s Asus (duh), LG, whose G Pad 8.3 always looked like a test run for something bigger to me, and… HTC. So no Samsung, no Lenovo? Apparently so, albeit I’m not convinced.

LG G Pad Rumor: Google torn between Asus, LG and HTC for 2014 Nexus 7 tablet

And I’m certainly not convinced HTC remains in contention. True, it wouldn’t be the first time they’d join hands with Google, as they’ve helped build the Nexus One three years ago, but it’s been three long, painful years for the Taiwanese.

Besides, HTC has no real expertise in the tablet arena, no perspectives of improving its financial state anytime soon and, let’s face it, a horrendous marketing department.

And then there were two. But don’t count on me to narrow that down to one candidate. I’ll tell you what though, if this year’s Nexus 10 turns out to be co-manufactured by Asus, my money’s on LG.

Otherwise, it will feel like Larry Page & co. are getting too deep in cahoots with Jonney Shih and the gang and, next thing you know, Samsung will reboot Tizen work while LG will find comfort in Firefox’s arms.

Sources: The Droid Guy, Commercial Times