Friday, September 3, 2010

Toshiba to Launch New Tablet Computer

The Wall Street Journal

TOKYO—Toshiba Corp. said Friday that it will release by year-end a tablet computer that runs on Google Inc.'s Android operating system, as the Japanese electronics maker aims to grab a chunk of a fast-growing tablet device market spearheaded by Apple Inc.'s iPad.

The company said it will sell the Folio 100 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It has yet to decide whether to launch it in other regions such as the U.S. or Japan, a company spokeswoman said.

Toshiba is among many electronics manufacturers around the world looking to ride the wave of demand that has swelled with the iPad. Samsung Electronics Co. Thursday unveiled the Galaxy Tab, which also runs on the Android software. Sharp Corp. in July showed off prototypes of a tablet it hopes will be the "iPad made in Japan," and plans to officially unveil the new product later this month.

"The market for tablet devices like the iPad is attracting a lot of consumer attention," said the Toshiba spokeswoman.

The Folio 100 is not Toshiba's first tablet computer. The Japanese company unveiled a touch-screen tablet called the JournE Touch last September and started selling it in Europe in March, before Apple started selling the iPad in April.

The JournE Touch runs on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system, so the new Folio 100 will be Toshiba's first Android-based tablet.

The Folio 100 is equipped with a 10.1-inch multi-touch display and an embedded webcam. Unlike the iPad, the Toshiba tablet supports Adobe Flash for viewing videos on the Internet.

Toshiba expects the model that can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi networks to sell for 399 euros. The company has yet to decide when it will launch another model with 3G connectivity.

Still, despite the new tablets from Samsung, Toshiba and other major electronics makers, U.S. market research firm iSuppli expects the iPad to continue to control the global tablet market at least through 2012.

Citing an absence of competitors offering applications and content that can match those of Apple, iSuppli forecasts that the iPad will account for 74.1% of global tablet shipments in 2010. Even after rivals beef up their tablet offerings and related services, iSuppli expects that the iPad will still hold 61.7% of the market in 2012.