Asus is the latest tech manufacturer to climb on the tablet wagon, and it’s hedging its bets by offering tablets with different operating systems.
Like Acer, which has also unveiled its plans for the tablet market in the past week, Asus reacted fast after Apple launched the iPad. However, the time between realizing it had to compete in the tablet sector and actually bringing product to market has allowed Apple to build a considerable lead with the iPad. A lead which has already eaten into netbook sales.
Rumors that Asus was developing its own tablets have been rife for most of the year, but the company is still not quite ready to show its hand. However, company president Jerry Shan has now indicated to Digitimes that the first of what is likely to be a wide range of tablets will launch by the end of 2010.
The first to arrive will likely be a 12-inch tablet running Windows 7, retailing for around $1,000. Which sounds far too pricey to me for it to be able to compete with the current tablet market leader.
7- and 9-inch tablets will follow early next year, some powered by Windows (expected to be Windows 7 but not guaranteed), some powered by Android. The Android model, powered by an ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, would cost around $399, with the Windows model coming in $100 more at $499.
Asus’ devotion to the Windows platform will be tested with this tablet release, because Windows 7 really isn’t suited to the form factor. A fact which Microsoft has itself accepted. If Asus’ Android tablet outperforms the Windows 7 tablet then expect Asus to quietly drop it until Microsoft releases the tablet-friendly Windows 8 in 2012.
Asus is preparing for a hard-fought and long battle in the tablet sector, with 200 of the 800 technicians from its handheld devices department having already been transferred to a new tablet R&D department.