Tablet makers are set to roll out the next generation of cheaper tablets over the coming weeks and it is now clear that competition in the cutthroat market will intensify in the second half of the year.
Hewlett Packard’s first crack at the cheap tablet market, the Slate 7, is trickling down to retail right now. Acer’s B1 is already on sale and an 8-incher is just days away. According to Focus Taiwan, Lenovo is also scheduled to introduce a cheap $100 to $129 tablet in Q3 and it hopes to shift one million units per quarter. Asus already has a nice slice of the pie, courtesy of the Nexus 7, as do Amazon and Barns & Noble. Let’s not write off countless Chinese white-box tablet makers, either. Brand snobbery doesn’t extend to cheap no-frills gear - it's a free-for-all.
Although it is already excellently positioned in the low-end market, Asus is still looking for way to expand. It is working with Chinese outfit Rock Chip to develop a dirt cheap tablet based on a new Rock Chip SoC. It appears that Chinese component makers are lobbying Asus and Acer to use more of their components to help cut production costs.
The cheap tablet frenzy should come as no surprise. Earlier this year we reported that the number of European tablet users would quadruple by 2017. Much of that growth will come from cheap tablets, not high end devices like the iPad. The shift to cheaper tablets is good news for the Android crowd, but it is probably not what Apple, Intel and Microsoft want to see.
However, the cheap tablet bonanza might provide troubled PC churners with a second chance to capitalise on the tablet craze. They missed the first boat, but Lenovo, HP, Acer and countless smaller OEMs now seem to have a fighting chance in the low end, and for their sake they better try.