Microsoft's response and Goldman Sachs' Motorola estimate have been added to this story.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If 2010 was the year of Apple's ( AAPL) iPad, then 2011 is the year of everyone else's tablet.

The big theme at this week's Consumer Electronics Show is tablets, with tech watchers expecting a large number of new devices powered by Google's ( GOOG) Android operating system.

(Stay tuned to TheStreet for live coverage of CES.)
2011 CES

"Tablets will be the key showing at CES this year," Brian Marshall, an analyst at Gleacher & Company told TheStreet."People are expecting 50 million-plus tablet units from the tech industry in 2011 ."

The Year of Android

"There will be a lot of products launched on Android," Jayson Noland, an analyst at Robert W. Baird, told The Street, adding that Google's operating system has been gaining great momentum. A recent Nielsen report showed that while Apple's iOS holds the most market share for smartphones, over the past six months, 40% of consumers buying handsets bought Android-powered ones.

Newly spun off as a separate entity, Motorola's ( MMI) cell phone business, now called Motorola Mobility, will take center stage at CES Wednesday with a press conference that will likely mark the debut of its Droid Xoom The device is expected to run Honeycomb, the latest tablet version of Android, as well as a Tegra 2 graphics processor from Nvidia ( NVDA). The Xoom will reportedly offer both front and rear cameras, although Motorola wouldn't comment when contacted by TheStreet.

Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski expects that Motorola's Android-based tablet will make it onto the market sometime this year. In a note released earlier this week Jankowski estimates that Motorola could ship 1 million of the tablets in 2011, a figure which could grow to 4.5 million by 2013.

Toshiba and Lenovo are also expected to debut Android tablets, with Toshiba rumored to have readied a 10-inch Honeycomb version.

Dell ( DELL) could also unveil the successor to its Streak mini-tablet, a smallish 7-inch Android device with T-Mobile. "At this point we don't have any comment to provide for unannounced products," said a Dell spokesman in an email.

Microsoft Takes Another Swipe at Tablets

Microsoft ( MSFT), which has struggled for many years to launch a viable tablet, will reportedly show devices running the ubiquitous, low-powered ARM ( ARMH) chips. CEO Steve Ballmer will speak at a pre-show keynote on Wednesday evening, and there has been speculation that he will discuss a tablet partnership with Samsung or Dell.

"Last year, Microsoft partnered up with Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), so we will see what happens this year," said Brian Marshall, an analyst at Gleacher & Company.

There is also great interest in Microsoft's broader software strategy, and the tech giant will supposedly announce a new version of Windows.

Microsoft, however, is staying tight-lipped. "We are not commenting on any speculative announcements at CES," explained a spokeswoman for the software maker in an email to TheStreet.

The Debut of WebOS Tablets

HP, whose Slate was one of the big talking points at last year's CES, will add flesh to its tablet strategy, too. Its PalmPad, which runs Palm's WebOS, could finally make an appearance, according to reports. Speaking at HP's annual analyst day last year, executive Todd Bradley said that the device was in the works and would be available in early 2011.

Gleacher & Company analyst Marshall nonetheless believes that companies such as Dell and HP are unlikely to mount a realistic challenge to Apple's iPad. "At the end of the day, I don't think that anyone is going to displace Apple," he said, adding that the iPad will account for the majority of tablets sold this year.

Talk of an HP PalmPad at CES, however, may ultimately be overblown. On Tuesday HP sent out invitations to its own WebOS event which will be happening on Feb.9 and a spokesman told TheStreet that Palm will not have a big presence at CES.

Peripheral Players

Tablets will also debut from a slew of less-known firms, including Asus, Archos and Samsung rival Vizio, which unveiled its VIA tablet on Monday. The Android device features an 8-inch screen, a front-facing camera and the ability to connect to HD televisions.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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