The iPad has been a runaway success story for Apple. Samsung, HP, Dell, Acer, Asus, MSI, Toshiba, Lenovo and other companies all plan to enter the tablet space in the next year. So what about Sony? Nothing. The company has been very quiet about any tablet ambitions it may have.
But you know what? That’s not surprising at all. Sony was also one of the last PC makers to enter the netbook space. The company insisted that it didn’t want to launch another me-too product and wanted something that would stand out from the crowd. The first Sony device that vaguely resembled a netbook was the Vaio P, an almost-pocketable mini-laptop with a high resolution 8 inch display and a price tag that was about double that of its competitors.
Sony eventually introduced a much more typical-looking netbook, the Sony Vaio W. But even that model stood out from the crowd thanks to a high resolution 1366 x 768 pixel 10 inch display. I’d argue that Sony really could have come up with that idea about two years earlier — but the advantage of taking a wait-and-see approach to new product categories is that it allows a company like Sony to decide whether there’s a sub-niche that’s not being filled.
In an interview with Handelblatt, Sony computer chief Kazuo Hirai points out that as many as 22 companies will launch slate PCs in the next year. He says that if Sony jumps into the fray, it wants something that will make its product stand out.
For example, Sony might follow Apple’s approach and bundle a content store with music, movies, or other media with the tablet. The company could also offer integration with the Playstation Network.
Right now, Hirai isn’t sharing any announcements — and I suspect we won’t hear much from Sony about a tablet… until the company is ready to claim that it’s created the best things since sliced bread… or the iPad.