IBM and Toshiba may launch low-priced Tablet PCs

IBM and Toshiba may work with notebook companies in Taiwan to launch low-priced Tablet PCs, according to sources at Taiwanese notebook makers. The two computer giants have been in frequent contact with some Taiwanese notebook makers for potential orders of Tablet PCs with retail prices to be set at around US$1,299, according to sources.

The moves are widely seen by the local notebook industry as much-needed recognition of the Tablet PC market, which has experienced faltering sales despite high expectations in the beginning. Both major Tablet PC vendors, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Acer, were reported to have suffered from plunging global Tablet PC sales in early 2003. According to sources, Acer's Tablet PC sales now account for less than 10% of the company's total notebook sales, while HP's Tablet PCs contribute only 2-3% of the company's notebook shipments.

Relatively high prices are the key reason behind the lukewarm market response. In addition, Microsoft, a major sponsor of the Tablet PC, has not given hardware companies as much support as it originally planned, sources said. As the gap between the production costs of Tablet PCs and regular notebooks is expected to narrow to US$100-200 in the second half of this year, it will be more plausible to have low-priced Tablet PCs and demand should increase, said local notebook makers.

News source: DigiTimes

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