There’s absolutely no evidence that consumers desperately want touchscreen tablets that fill the gap we hadn’t really known existed between smartphones and traditional laptops. But PC and electronics makers are desperate for a new product category to market, and so 2010 is shaping up to be the year of the tablet, like it or not.

While I’m fairly certain that Apple’s much-hyped iPad is going to sell pretty well, that’s because it’s a flashy new product from Apple that has a lot more appeal than the last flop from the company. I’m less certain that the dozens of me-too tablets running Windows CE, Google Android, Windows 7, and various forms of Linux stand a chance in the marketplace. I’m not saying they won’t. I honestly just don’t know, and I’m awfully curious to find out.

But if there’s one company that has a pretty big stake in the game, it’s ARM. The company’s chip designs are used in all sorts of technology from companies including Freescale, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, and even Apple. And aside from a handful of tablets designed to run Windows 7, it looks like most of the keyboard-less tablets on the horizon will be built around ARM-based chips.

In fact, Computer World reports that ARM officials expect more than 50 tablets with ARM chips to launch this year. That’s not counting the smartphones, eBook readers, and smartbooks using the company’s designs.

If you’re wondering why you haven’t actually seen many of these devices in stores yet, it’s because they simply aren’t there yet. But by the second half of 2010, it’s likely that you won’t be able to walk into a mobile wireless store or big box electronics retail store without seeing a few tablets. The big question is whether you’ll see the same thing come 2011.

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6 replies on “50+ ARM-based tablets coming this year… how many will survive?”

  1. These devices MAY succeed if they can keep the price down. If they can function in daylight as an e-reader I don’t see how they WON’T take over that market. The ability to play movies and music easily is a huge bonus, as is the ability to store personal information, and allows for basic input functionality would be game changing.

    We’ll have to see how all this plays out. As far as I can tell price is going to be the biggest barrier to entry by far. However the devices in the lower brackets still need to offer decent performance, otherwise there will be so much market backlash that there won’t be a market for them next year.

    The next major barrier to entry is getting PASSED the ‘we need windows’ mentality. I personally think that for these devices to excel we need to have a touch-centric OS on them, and that pretty much excludes every flavor of Windows, including CE on the market (who knows maybe WinMo 7 will work on them, and it might even be good on them, and I’ll eat my words). People are going to have to be comfortable giving that up, which is actually a huge and unspoken advantage that Apple does have with the iPad (people are already used to the OS and comfortable with it, even if it does have limitations). Even if none of the gadget people I’ve talked to are too happy that the iPad is just a huge iPod Touch, there is something to be said for that.

    Personally, I think the technology is a tad immature if for no other reason than they just haven’t been on the market. We haven’t gone through the evolutionary process. Everyone is guessing at what screens will work, what form factors people will flock to, how heavy is too heavy, how the weight needs to be distributed, etc. The ability to use a pen on a capacitive touch screen may be huge… It may not. I’m personally excited by the thoughts of a Pixel Qi screen combined with the Tegra 2, but it might suck. Again, there will probably only be one or two OS’s that will really reign supreme on these devices at the end of the day, we don’t know what that will be. We can make guesses (like Android), but again, who knows.

    So, I can’t wait for products to actually hit the streets. I can’t wait to see how it plays out, because even more than netbooks and smart phones, these devices can really redefine how the average person interacts with a computer.

    1. 4 basic things we need and im getting one…
      – sub $250 price (arm cpu)
      – battery has to last a long time (again arm cpu)
      – at least 9-10″ (i dont want an ipod touch)
      – thin

      as soon as these are met i’m all over them like a fat kid on cake

  2. I am hoping that with so many to compete with, the prices will be lower and more appealling to more people therefore a bigger market for it.


    small
    inexpensive
    touchpad
    ssd
    bluetooth
    wireless

    I agree on the above list by Patrick; especially the low price.

  3. Just like the 50+ arm smartbooks that we’re supposed to be buying right now?

    Future is probably 2 tablets stuck together, so one can be the keyboard/writing pad and the other the screen. Like a big DS.

  4. Actually I have a use for a tablet and look forward to buying one. Here is my wish list:

    small
    inexpensive
    touchpad
    ssd
    bluetooth
    wireless

    When biking or walking it would be nice to have a pocket device that can still access my e-mail in an internet cafe. If it can play mp3s into a set of bluetooth headphones that would be great. For applications an address book that can sync with my desktop and I would like a stargazer map program like stellarium.

    Thank you.

    1. Why a touchpad when it will have a touch screen? I would rather have GPS than the touchpad. As for wireless, G is fast enough, no need for N.

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