ARM Inc, which licenses intellectual property to electronics makers like Apple Inc, today announced it will showcase several red-hot e-readers and tablet PCs, powered by ARM-based chips, during Computex Taipei, the world’s second-biggest electronics fair.
This marks a shift in the company’s mobile computing product lineup from netbook computers, which took center stage at last year’s trade show.
The UK IP company also plans to display smartbooks powered by Google’s Chrome operating system.
Yesterday, ARM displayed tablet PCs during a press briefing in Taipei, including a tablet device equipped with a 8.9-inch touch screen from local contract notebook computer maker Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶).
Almost all of the new tablet devices run the Android operating system, which is supported by Google.
“We believe tablet PCs will become a new PC category,” said director of ARM’s mobile computing unit Bob Morris.
“This is a rapidly changing market ... I believe media tablets such as Apple’s iPad are going to be a new category,” he said
The so-called media tablet is different from tablet PCs that were launched a few years ago, initially by software giant Microsoft Corp, targeting corporate executives.
Tablet device shipments this year are expected to reach 6 million units — including 4 million iPads — and shipments will more than triple to 21 million units next year, Morris said, citing statistics from research firm International Data Corp (IDC).
Before sales of Apple’s iPads, people were not so sure about the reception of such devices, Morris said.
He also warned that it was difficult to predict how much tablet devices would eat into the market for netbook computers, but expected to see the line between the various mobile computing devices become increasingly blurred.
This year, ARM is looking to account for over 50 percent of the media tablet PC market, Morris said.
That goal that looked conservative, compared to the company’s 95 percent share of the mobile phone market, he said.
More than 40 models of tablet devices and smartbooks were in the pipeline and would reach the market later this year or next, Morris said.
These include Dell Inc’s 5-inch tablet, called Mini5, and Lenovo Group Ltd’s (聯想) IdeaPAd U1 Hybrid, he said.
That could include Taiwan’s PC maker Asustek Computer Inc (華碩). Asustek is reportedly planning to debut its first tablet device and e-reader during Computex Taipei, which begins on June 1 through June 5.
In addition to tablet devices, ARM is also planning to exhibit e-readers from several companies such as Spring Design’s Alex eReader, which has a double screen — one 6-inch e-ink screen for reading and the other 3.5-inch color screen for Internet access.
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