May 17, 2011

Nvidia CEO Huang Jen-Hsun blamed slow sales of Android slates to a multitude of factors ranging from the lack of expertise at retail, sub-par marketing, higher price points and software. Extending the opinion, Asian sources from notebook vendors warn that lack of content is to blame for weak demand for Android slates. It’s the software, stupid, they argue, reports DigiTimes.

The sources pointed out that most of the applications that are executable on Android 2.x are turned out to be un-executable on Android 3.0, while any application that can run on iPhone can be directly transfer to iPad for execution. Since there are only limited applications specifically designed for Android 3.0, it has significantly lagged demand of Android 3.0-based tablet PC.

“Apple would have achieved a much bigger market share than it already has if the player decided to wait”, the source admitted. Android 3.1 should resolve all those issues when it becomes available in the second half of this year, the source concluded. Most apps designed for Android 2.x smartphones apps either don’t scale well or “turn out to be un-executable on Android 3.0”, the source noted, blaming poor demand for Honeycomb tablets on a limited number of tablet-specific software experiences. Apple, of course, is employing quite the opposite tactics focused on promoting apps tailored to the iPad.

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May 20, 2011

Acer is looking forward to shipping a million Honeycomb-driven Iconia Tab slates in the second quarter of this year, sources told Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes Friday.

Acer has been taking delivery of Iconia tablet PCs eagerly from its production partners with the company’s global shipments of tablet PCs likely to reach one million units in the second quarter, according to sources in the upstream supply chain.

The sources back this claim by pointing out surging revenues at Acer’s touch sensor suppliers Cando and Sintek Photronics.

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May 25, 2011

DigiTimes this morning reported an interesting story about Microsoft talking to Nvidia, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Intel and AMD about using their hardware in tablets running the company’s yet-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system. Microsoft reportedly asked each chip maker to invite two PC vendors for joint development and testing. Turns out the software company would love to see Windows 8-powered tablets from Samsung, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, but the love does not seem to extend to Asus, Acer, HTC and other Asian first-tier vendors.

Taiwan-based PC vendors who have been in long-term partnerships with Microsoft have complained to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) because they were not invited to participate, and hope for the government’s negotiation with Microsoft, the sources added.

This is interesting because both Acer and Asus have recently released high-end Honeycomb tablets with dual screens foldable between the tablet and “PC” mode. It appears as if Microsoft is unnecessarily distancing itself from first-tier Android vendors, the move that could easily bite them a few months from now.

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May 31, 2011

Huang Jen-Hsun, Nvidia’s co-founder and CEO, predicts tablets will outperform mobile PCs five years from today, echoing a similar sentiment from UK fabless chip maker ARM Holdings. The Tegra revenue could even surpass Nvidia’s GPU business, he tells chatting with reporters at a Computex press conference in Taipei, Taiwan. The CEO dismissed Intel’s latest mobile strides by expressing pessimism about their re-newed focus on tablet and smartphone silicon. Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes quoted Jen-Hsun as saying that “consumers do not care whether their products use x86- or ARM-based processor”, adding:

As for the impact bring by the tablet PC, Huang pointed out that PC and tablet PC each has its own unique functionality; therefore, the traditional notebook should not see any danger of being replaced. However, netbook, which does not have a full functionality as a traditional PC, is being impacted deeply by tablet PC.

Nvidia, of course, is betting big on ARM-branded processor designs (versus Intel’s desktop x86 and mobile Atom architectures) that dominate the smartphone industry and are slowly but surely becoming a norm in the tablet space. Tegra chips typically combine ARM processing cores and Nvidia’s custom graphics cores. Even the iPad’s A5 chip is custom-designed around ARM’s CPU blueprints and the graphics unit licensed from Imagination Technologies. Nvidia’s technology roadmap is pretty convincing and they’ve been working their way up the mobile chain. The company is set to become the leading silicon provider for mobile gadgets…

Asus yesterday unveiled the Eee Pad Slider, a gadget designed around Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chip.

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June 22, 2011

Amazon, the well-versed vendor of vertically integrated wireless devices, is on the verge of unveiling a tablet

We’ve heard rumors that Amazon is planning multiple mobile devices and their chief Jeff Bezos teased us to “stay tuned” for a tablet, but the actual release date of their first iPad killer has been anyone’s guess. According to DigiTimes, a pretty reliable Taiwanese publication, the online retailer is gearing up to launch their inaugural Android slate some time in the August-September time frame.

Amazon is poised to step into tablet PCs and will launch models as soon as August-September, with targeted global sales of four million units for 2011, according to Taiwan-based component makers. The timing of launch is to meet the peak sales period prior to Thanksgiving in the US and the year-end holidays in the US and Europe, the sources pointed out.

Four million units is a pretty aggressive target for about four months worth of sales, however…

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After smartphones, tablets and cross-over gadgets such as Lenovo’s IdeaPad U1 with detachable display, Android and ARM technology could make its way inside notebooks by year’s end.

The vast majority of all-in-one chips powering today’s tablets and smartphones incorporate CPU designs from UK-based ARM Holdings, a fables semiconductor intellectual property firm headquartered in Cambridge, England. For example, chips from the likes of Qualcomm, Nvidia and even Apple all incorporate CPU designs licensed from ARM Holdings. Now that power-savvy mobile chips with two and four processing cores and flashy graphics are a reality, notebook vendors are taking notice.

We’ve previously heard whispers that Apple has a MacBook prototype designed around the iPad 2’s A5 chip which contains two ARM-designed processing cores. Not content with being left behind, first-tier device makers such as Samsung, Toshiba, Acer and Asustek plan on bringing ARM-powered notebooks to the market by the end of this year. From DigiTimes:

The sources pointed out that ARM-based systems using Android were already launched under the smartbook name two years ago with Toshiba and Lenovo both launching products in the retail channel. However, due to weaker than expected demand, the related products were soon phased out of the market. Asustek has already made plans to launch a 13-inch ARM-based notebook adopting Nvidia’s processor with Android. The sources pointed out that there are already several brand vendors reportedly set to launch ARM-based notebooks with prices lower than US$299 to compete for market share and the vendors’ processor choices include Nvidia’s Tegra, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and processors from Texas Instruments.

There’s a lot to look forward to…

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