Motorola will sell no tablet computer before its time. That was the message from company co-CEO Sanjay Jha at the Deutsche Bank Technology investor's conference Wednesday, when he said the company best known for cell phones and other communication equipment will produce a tablet computer early next year. But only if Motorola, based in Schaumburg, Ill., develops just the right device, with the right operating system.
No Android 2.2 Fit?
"We want to make sure that any tablet that we deliver is competitive in the marketplace, and I think all of us will make sure that we will only deliver that when that occurs," Jha said. "Hopefully, that's early next year."
A Motorola Android-powered tablet had been rumored to be in the works for the holiday season.
Samsung has already introduced a tablet, the Galaxy Tab, that runs Google's Android 2.2 with a seven-inch screen, smaller than most tablets. Dell also sells the Android-based Streak with a five-inch screen.
But Jha said at the conference that Google doesn't think Android is suitable for a tablet -- apparently some apps don't work properly on the larger screen and therefore won't download from the Android Market. That indicates Motorola may be waiting for another version or another system entirely.
The next versions of Android, nicknamed Gingerbread and Honeycomb are expected to be more tablet friendly.
The tablet market is expected to boom in the wake of Apple's highly successful iPad, which passed the three million mark in sales in just a few short months. In addition to Samsung, Sharp, Hewlett-Packard, Sony and Dell are all planning new models.
Devices expected to run Android include the ARCHOS 7, Cisco Cius, Dell Streak, the Notion Ink Adam, ICD Ultra, Velocity Micro Cruz Tablet, LG Tablet, Pandigital Novel, and NEC Life Touch, as well as a tablet made by Google itself (with Verizon). Toshiba's forthcoming Folio will have perhaps the largest tablet screen available at more than 10 inches.
But waiting for the right product at the right time may be a wise choice for Motorola.
"It's never a good idea to introduce mediocre products," said consumer-devices analyst Avi Greengart of Current Analysis. "Vendors must keep in mind that the iPad is successful not only because of good hardware design, but because it is based on a user interface designed for that form factor, and it is taking advantage of two fully developed ecosystems for content and apps."
Reports Wednesday said the Galaxy Tab will be distributed by AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon Wireless.
A report last month by Gartner Research found that rising tablet sales had a minimal impact on the smartphone market because people still have a need for pocket-sized devices.
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