HTC Corp (宏達電), the Taiwanese maker of Android and Windows-based handsets, yesterday introduced its first tablet computer as it joins rivals in the chase to take market share from Apple Inc’s iPad.
The HTC Flyer tablet features a 7-inch screen and front and rear-facing cameras, mimicking the features of Samsung Electronics Co’s first Galaxy Tab, which the South Korean company introduced four months ago.
Samsung unveiled a newer tablet this week with a 10-inch screen, a higher-quality camera and the latest version of Android, which is also used in the HTC Flyer.
HTC joins Samsung, Hewlett-Packard Co and Research in Motion Ltd in the market for tablets, now dominated by the iPad, with more than 15 million sold since its April release, Apple vice president Eddy Cue said on Feb. 2.
Global shipments of tablet devices are forecast to more than double this year, led by Apple and Google Inc Android-based models, market researcher IDC Corp said.
“We are not interested in rushing out another me-too device, and I don’t think any of you are either,” HTC chief executive Peter Chou (周永明) said at a press conference in Barcelona, Spain, where he introduced the new tablet.
HTC is looking to its own software to differentiate its devices from rival Android tablets. Its ￡30 million (US$48 million) acquisition of Saffron Media Group Ltd, which develops software for delivering content over the Internet, and its US$40 million investment in games-on-demand provider OnLive Inc may help HTC lure users to its tablets and smartphones.
The Flyer includes support for taking notes onscreen with a stylus, as well as playing back audio recordings from the time a note was written. Shipments will commence in the second quarter of this year, the company said.
HTC also unveiled five Android-based smartphones, including two that feature dedicated hardware connecting users to Facebook Inc’s social-networking service.
Global tablet sales reached 17 million units last year and are forecast to climb to 44.6 million this year, IDC said last month.
That figure could climb to 70.8 million units next year, it said.
HTC is the world’s fifth-largest smartphone vendor, shipping 8.6 million units in the fourth quarter, IDC said on Feb. 7. It trailed Nokia Oyj, Apple and Samsung, which was fourth with 9.7 million units, IDC said.