Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DTN News - TECHNOLOGY NEWS: Sony Plans Two Android Tablets

DTN News - TECHNOLOGY NEWS: Sony Plans Two Android Tablets
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada / TOKYO, Japan - April 27, 2011:

Sony Corp. plans to introduce two tablets later this year running Google Inc.'s Android operating system, more than a year after Apple Inc. released the iPad and sparked the tablet-computer boom.

Sony is the latest competitor to offer products aimed at chipping away at the iPad's 80% share of the rapidly growing tablet market. Sony said Tuesday it aims to be the top seller of Android-based tablet computers by next year.

Sony Unveils New Tablets

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Sony unveils one of its two soon-to-be-released tablets, the S1.

Sony's two tablets, code-named S1 and S2, will be released sometime after the fall. The S1 has a typical tablet shape and tapers down from one thicker side. It has a 9.4-inch touch-screen display. The S2 is a cylindrical, clamshell device that opens and closes, with two 5.5-inch touch-screen displays.

Sony said the tablets will come with wireless connectivity through Wi-Fi or high-speed mobile-phone services. The company didn't specify what mobile carriers it plans to work with and offered no details on sales targets. It also didn't disclose pricing except to say that the tablets would be "competitive."

Sony also offered a preview of two new Vaio personal computers running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system. The company briefly showed a picture of a Vaio Freestyle Hybrid PC, which looks like a tablet with a slide-out keyboard. Sony also displayed a thin Ultra Mobile PC. The company didn't offer details about the products except to say both are expected out before year-end.

Sony plans to enter the tablet-computer market later this year with two models running Google's Android operating system, but how do the devices size up next to competitors like Apple's iPad? WSJ's Jake Schlesinger and Daisuke Wakabayashi discuss.

Sony aims to position its tablet computers as do-all entertainment devices tapping into its network of video, music, electronic books and videogames. Under Chief Executive Howard Stringer, Sony has pursued a strategy of linking online services to its wide range of electronic devices.

"We see this as a symbolic product to freely highlight what we can bring to the table," said Kunimasa Suzuki, deputy president of Sony's consumer-products and services group. "We need the tablet to be the hero of our network strategy."

Sony faces an uphill climb in the tablet-computer market. While demand is strong, the field also is crowded with nearly every electronics, PC, and smartphone maker unveiling tablets.

Sony's new tablets will run the Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, which has been designed specifically to run on tablets. But the company's plans to debut the product after the autumn puts the product behind other non-Apple tablets running the same software.

Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., with its Xoom device, introduced the world's first tablet running Honeycomb. Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc. and others plan to beat Sony to the market with Honeycomb tablets.

Koichi Mitsui/Zuma Press

Sony executive Kunimasa Suzuki displays the company's S1, which has a typical tablet shape and will be released after the fall.

Mr. Suzuki, who is in charge of Sony's mobile-devices strategy, said the company aims to win over customers with its unique design and technologies to speed Web browsing and response times. The S1 and S2 also will be able to send videos to Sony television sets and serve as remote controls for other Sony TV sets and other products.

Both devices will run Nvidia Inc.'s Tegra 2 processors.

"It's a wickedly difficult market and a lot of people are fighting for number two, but Sony has as good of a chance as anyone," said Jay Defibaugh, equities research director at MF Global FXA Securities in Tokyo. "They will need to differentiate in a sea of new models flooding the market and they seem aware of that."

The global tablet market is expected to nearly quadruple this year to about 70 million units, expanding to almost 300 million by 2015, according to research firm Gartner. While two in every three tablets sold this year will be iPads, Gartner said, Android-based models are expected to whittle away at Apple's dominance. By 2015, Gartner forecasts that Apple will control 47% of the market to Android's 39%.

Write to Daisuke Wakabayashi at

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