Microsoft Corp is likely to launch a smaller and less expensive tablet computer in the fourth quarter of the year to compete with Apple Inc’s popular iPad Mini, a Topology Research Institute (拓璞產業研究所) analyst said yesterday.
The Windows 8-based tablet, called the Surface mini, is expected to feature a touchscreen of between 7.5 inches and 8 inches and a low-power Intel Corp Atom microprocessor, and carry a price tag of US$299, Topology analyst Maxwell Chang (張乘維) told reporters at a media briefing on consumer electronics trends.
Microsoft has been in talks with two or three Taiwanese original-design manufacturers to produce the new gadget, but the list has not been finalized, Chang said, citing supply chain sources.
The US giant also plans to launch the second generation of its Surface Pro tablet, which is expected to use a more powerful Intel Haswell processor, he added.
“Microsoft is likely to aim at taking on the iPad Mini because it knows it is hard to compete with [Google Inc’s] Android tablets in terms of price,” Chang said.
Taiwan-based Acer Inc (宏碁) and Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) have launched 7-inch tablets costing as little as US$129, while Acer and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co are also set to sell 8-inch models priced at between US$249 and US$399, Chang said.
Topology data show that worldwide tablet shipments are expected to total 161 million units this year, up 42 percent from 113 million last year.
Tablet models sized between 7 inches and 8 inches will make up 54 percent of the total shipments this year, a massive increase from 32 percent last year, the institute said.