Monday, April 25, 2011, 11:30 pm PT (02:30 am ET)
Sony unveils its first tablets in bid to compete with Apple's iPadSony revealed Tuesday two Google Android-based touchscreen tablets, which will released this fall in an attempt to catch up to Apple's year-long head start with the iPad.
The tablets, dubbed S1 and S2, were unveiled at a media launch in Japan, Reuters reports. Sony will attempt to leverage its successes in the gaming industry to drive sales of the tablets, as both the S1, which sports a 9.4-inch display, and the S2, which features two 5.5-inch displays, will be compatible with select PlayStation games.
Sony deputy president of consumer products and services Kunimasa Suzuki indicated that the devices will run the tablet-designed Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, as he pulled a prototype from a jacket pocket at the launch.
In an effort to distinguish itself from the growing list of Android-based iPad competitors, such as the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab, Sony has developed two unique form factors for its tablets. The S1 has an "off-center of gravity form factor," while the S2 features a foldable dual-screen setup.
The two devices will be marketed under the "Sony Tablet" brand and will feature heavy cross-promotion of Sony's Qriocity media suite.
The S1 will feature a Tegra 2 processor, Wi-Fi and 3G/4G cellular data capability. IT will also include an IR port for AV controls with Sony's line of Bravia televisions and support for the Sony-initiated Digital Living Network Alliance standards. Sony held off on revealing further details on either the S1 or the S2, disclaiming that "design and specifications are subject to change without notice.
The devices are slated for a global release in the fall of this year.
In January, Sony surprised attendees of the Consumer Electronics Show when the company declared its intentions to take the No. 2 spot in the tablet market within a year, despite not having released a tablet.
Earlier this year, Sony unveiled the next-generation version of its PlayStation Portable, dubbed the NGP in hopes of striking back at Apple, whose popular iOS devices have quickly begun cannibalizing Sony's share of the gaming market.
The Japanese electronics giant also took the wraps off a partnership with Google and other Android handset makers that will produce the PlayStation Suite, an Android-compatible content platform that will bring both classic and new PlayStation games to the mobile operating system.
"Users will be able to enjoy PlayStation content on an open operating system for the first time in PlayStation history," the company said in a statement in January. The move is a break from precedent from Sony, which has preferred its own proprietary formats over open ones.
Sony faces an uphill climb against Apple, which has attracted crushing demand for the iPad 2. Apple COO Tim Cook told investors last week that the iPad 2 is experiencing "the mother of all backlogs." Supply constraints caused Apple's quarterly sales of the iPad to decline to 4.69 million in the first quarter of calendar 2011, but Apple is still expected to sell 40 million iPads this year.
In April, research firm Gartner revealed that it expects Apple's iPad to continue to dominate the tablet market through 2015. The market is expected to grow to 294 million tablets in 2015, with Apple maintaining an estimated 47 percent market share.
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