Apple’s popular iPad is getting its strongest competition thus far as consumer-electronics manufacturers unveil tablet computers with bigger screens, front-facing cameras for video chat and more.
The iPad has been a smashing success since its April launch, leaving other companies to play catch-up in the suddenly hot market for the keyboardless touch-screen devices. Rivals are making a bigger push at this week’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, betting they can challenge Apple with such features as Google’s smartphone software Android, high-definition touchscreens and cameras for video chat and photography.
The competition is going to be fierce. DisplaySearch analyst Richard Semenza estimated that a hundred different tablet models are in development, though not all of them will reach store shelves. Major companies including Motorola and Dell are expected to trot out new models. At least two companies — high-definition TV makers Vizio and AOC — announced tablets on Monday. Toshiba also plans to unveil this week the Toshiba Tablet, which will sport two cameras for video chatting and taking photos, a high-definition screen that is larger than the iPad’s and the upcoming Honeycomb version of Android that is more optimised for tablets.
“This is the starting gun for tablets, except Apple had a yearlong lead in the race,” BGC analyst Colin Gillis said. Apple was expected to sell more than 13 million iPads in 2010, making up the vast majority of the total market. Although analysts believe the iPad will still account for the bulk of the 55 million tablets that Gartner expects will be shipped, there’s still room for rivals to vie for sales of the remaining 10 million to 15 million devices. AP