Financial Times: Rival tablets ready to bite into iPad lead at a fraction of price
andre.kesteloot at verizon.net
Sun May 30 19:46:57 CDT 2010
Rival tablets ready to bite into iPad lead
By Chris Nuttall in San Francisco
Published: May 30 2010 20:30 | Last updated: May 30 2010 20:30
Supplies of the iPad have been limited but the low-priced rivals are
expected to be plentiful
The international launch
the iPad at the weekend is set to be swiftly followed by the release of
a raft of rival tablet PCs, costing a fraction of *Apple
<http://markets.ft.com/tearsheets/performance.asp?s=us:AAPL>*’s $500 device.
Tablets priced at about $100 will be unveiled at Computex in Taiwan,
which begins Monday – the first major trade show since the release of
the iPad in April.
Such low-cost tablets are part of a trend in the PC industry as
component costs fall, with laptops and netbooks attracting low-cost
competitors from relatively tiny companies across Asia.
Small Asian manufacturers such as Eken, G-Link, Bluesky and Kinstone
will all be unveiling their iPad-lite models from Monday.
Meanwhile, a $75 tablet is expected next year from manufacturers
supporting the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative to provide
computers for disadvantaged schoolchildren, while consumers in some
countries will be able to take advantage of free tablets from telecoms
and TV providers in exchange for subscription contracts.
Apple’s products <http://www.ft.com/indepth/apple>carry a premium and
supplies of the iPad have been limited but the low-priced rivals are
expected to be plentiful and encourage mass adoption. Unit shipments of
tablet devices are predicted to increase by 230 per cent over the next
year, according to the In-Stat research firm, while Deloitte forecasts
tens of millions of sales worth more than $2bn by the end of 2011.
“With pricing at around $100 and wireless broadband rolled out in both
advanced and emerging economies to enable an “apps” infrastructure, this
will definitely increase the size of the market,” says Richard Brown,
head of marketing at chipmaker Via.
He expects its Prizm processors will be powering 50 tablets announced at
Computex. Most will have limited memory and storage and will run
web-based applications. With chips based on designs of the UK’s Arm and
Android operating system, manufacturing costs can be as low as $60-$70,
China is the source of the cheaper innovation, with the “shanzhai”
bandit phonemakers of the grey market moving on to the manufacture of
tablets that can use readily available smartphone components.
Chris Wei, senior analyst at Taiwan’s Market Intelligence & Consulting
Institute, a government-backed research house, said “even a number of
mainland Chinese brands that made netbooks” are shifting their focus on
to tablet PCs this year.
But there will not just be competition on price, Mr Wei says. “The iPad
is still in its first generation so it still has some some limitations
that rivals will improve on”, such as by using more powerful hardware
components or by supporting Adobe Flash content. A number of tablet PCs
that will be shown at this year’s Computex have also been converted from
“smartbooks” using Arm-based processors that were featured heavily at
last year’s fair but never made it to retail stores because brands
turned conservative about new products during the economic downturn, Mr
“Some of these tablets, if you take away the outer casing it’s basically
a smartbook inside,” he said.
Meanwhile, OLPC announced a partnership with chipmaker Marvell last week
that it said would bring forward production of its third-generation
device – a tablet – by two years, to the beginning of 2011.
Nicholas Negroponte, founder of OLPC, said the device would have a
multi-touch screen capable of videoconferencing and HD video yet could
cost as little as $75 due to the falling cost of components.
“I’ve seen many of the Chinese manufacturers make low-cost laptops and
they have all been so junky and flimsy, so I hope we can influence
things for the better with tablets,” he said.
Better known names are producing tablets at slightly higher prices.
*Archos <http://markets.ft.com/tearsheets/performance.asp?s=fr:JXR>* of
France has launched the 7-inch Archos 7 Home Tablet for $180, while
Dell’s Streak will be offered through the O2 mobile carrier in the UK in
June for a reported $100-$200, depending on the level of subsidy by the
The chipmaker *Broadcom
<http://markets.ft.com/tearsheets/performance.asp?s=us:BRCM>* has shown
tablets containing its semiconductors being adopted by telecoms, cable
and satellite companies, such as Japan’s *NTT DoCoMo
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