There should be no doubt that 2011 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Android based tablets. Manufacturers are scurrying to get their tablet plans together and prepare for release in 2011 in an attempt to put up somewhat of a fight against Apple’s iPad juggernaut. Most manufactures had to go back to the drawing board to completely rework their tablets after the iPad was released.
One company that has taken a more thought-out approach is Vizio. Vizio has made a name for themselves selling low-cost quality big-screen TVs and is now getting ready to branch out into the mobile device space. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the company will announce a new tablet computer and smart phone to compete with Apple’s iPad and iPhone.
The devices will run the latest flavor of Google’s Android OS and are expected to be released later this summer here in the US. Vizio’s tabelt will be called the Via Tablet and the phone will go by the name Via Phone. The Via Tablet will have an 8″ screen while the Via Phone will feature a 4″ display. Both devices are said to have front facing cameras for video conferencing and the Via Phone will also sport a five megapixel rear camera for photos and vide recording.
The entry of Vizio into the tablet and smartphone space should send shivers down the spines of other tech executives. Vizio is known for doing one thing extremely well, mercilessly driving down prices with their low-cost business model. The company has already had a major impact on the LCD and Plasma TV business and they will be looking to replicate this in the mobile device market. Matthew McRae, Vizio’s Chief Technology Officer refused to disclose pricing to the Wall Street Journal but did indicate that low pricing will be a clear part of their strategy.
Apple shocked the market when they introduced the iPad last year for only $499. Most analysts and other manufacturers were expecting the iPad to come in somewhere between $799 and $999. There are already signs that competing tablet makers are being forced to reduce prices to better compete against Apple’s iPad. Samsung recently knocked $100 off their Galaxy Tab in an attempt to increase sales and other vendors are sure to revisit prices before they launch later this year.
The Android market looks to become very crowded in 2011 and with competitors searching for ways to differentiate their products, pricing is sure to be key. It will be interesting to see how HTC, Motorola, Samsung and other Android tablet vendors respond to low-cost Android alternatives from Vizio and others. RIM and Apple should fare better as they each run their own unique OS providing a key market differentiator in a soon to be crowded space.