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iPad rivals stuck in ‘upcoming’ mode

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

  by Brooke Crothers

Head-turning consumer tablets using Intel processors are still mired in to-be-shipped status, leaving the iPad as the sole high-profile 10-inch class consumer product.

 A tablet running the MeeGo operating system will ship next week. But no high-profile shipping iPad rivals emerged at an Intel conference this week.

 Launched in April, the iPad is still racking up impressive sales numbers with 2010 shipments expected to be more than 10 million. Yet nothing has emerged from the Intel camp of computer makers, comprised of some of the largest computer companies in the world.

 The latest “upcoming” tablet is from Dell: a hybrid design that may be more Netbook than tablet. The only shipment information available at this stage is “later this year,” according to a statement from Dell at the Intel Developer Forum on Tuesday. The Dell design follows an analogous Lenovo hybrid tablet that was slated to appear in June but was then delayed.

 Ironically, a keynote speech at IDF by Renee James, a senior vice president at Intel, was backdropped with a lot of tablet art. But the only real product disclosed in the keynote was a tablet from a relatively obscure European company, 4TIITOO AG. That tablet, based on the MeeGo operating system, will ship “next week,” James said.

 And Intel’s view of the tablet is still relatively indifferent. In a CNET interview, Executive Vice President David Perlmutter called the tablet “a wonderful companion device” then added, “but we’re not talking specifically (about tablets) because we want to be talking when something is shipping.” In other words, there’s nothing really to speak of yet.

 And Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini has downplayed tablets consistently. Speaking at the company’s investor meeting in May, Otellini said: “On the scale of the PC industry, they’re relatively insignificant.” I don’t think Apple would agree with that assessment.