Acer Inc., the world’s second- largest computer maker, unveiled a lineup of three tablet devices in a bid to challenge Apple Inc.’s market-leading iPad.
Two of the tablets will be based on Google Inc.’s Android platform and feature 7-inch and 10.1-inch screens, while the third 10.1-inch-display device will run on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows software, Taipei-based Acer said in New York yesterday.
Acer, which also makes mobile phones, aims to grab about 10 percent of the market for tablets that bridge the gap between laptops and smartphones such as Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone. Apple demonstrated the appeal of such devices by selling 3 million iPads in the first 80 days after the product debuted in April.
The new tablet computers may appeal to price-sensitive consumers, Angela Hsiang, an analyst with KGI Securities Co. in Taipei, said by telephone. “The debut highlights Acer’s official entry into the tablet computer market,” said Hsiang, who rates the stock “outperform.”
Acer joins a field dominated by Apple, which had a 95 percent share of the tablet market last quarter, according to Strategy Analytics. Samsung Electronics Co. recently released its Galaxy Tab and RIM plans to release its 7-inch BlackBerry PlayBook next quarter.
“This is a market that’s still not fully known, not fully satisfied,” Jim Wong, Acer’s head of information-technology products, said yesterday. The company expects 40 million to 50 million tablets will be sold worldwide next year, he said.
With the 9.7-inch iPad priced between $499 and $829, consumers looking for cheaper devices may be attracted to other tablets below $400, Hsiang said. Still, it will take some time before the new products can significantly add to Acer’s revenue, she said.
“It’s a wide-open market and an opportunity for Acer to make itself better known to a North American market,” said Roger Entner, head of telecom research at Nielsen Co.
Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci may be trying to hedge his bets by releasing devices in different sizes. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last month that devices such as the PlayBook are “dead on arrival” because they are too small to compete with the iPad, which has a 9.7-inch screen.
Acer, which trails Hewlett-Packard Co. in global computer shipments, rose 0.5 percent to NT$90.20 at 11:54 a.m. on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The stock has lost 6.1 percent this year, compared with a 1.5 percent gain by the benchmark Taiex index.
The two Android tablets will be available in April and the Microsoft device will go on sale in February. All three will offer Wi-Fi connectivity and allow users to surf the Internet using a 3G connection. Wong said the tablets would likely be in the previously stated range of $299 to $699.
Acer yesterday also released a smartphone with a 4.8-inch screen based on Android that they touted as a phone with the “soul of a tablet.”
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