Microsoft's response and Goldman Sachs' Motorola estimate have been added to this story.
NEW YORK (
) -- If 2010 was the year of
iPad, then 2011 is the year of everyone else's tablet.
The big theme at this week's
is tablets, with tech watchers expecting a large number of new devices powered by
Android operating system.
(Stay tuned to
for live coverage of CES.)
"Tablets will be the key showing at CES this year," Brian Marshall, an analyst at Gleacher & Company told
."People are expecting 50 million-plus
tablet units from the tech industry
The Year of Android
"There will be a lot of products launched on Android," Jayson Noland, an analyst at Robert W. Baird, told
, 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,
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
The device is expected to run Honeycomb, the latest tablet version of Android, as well as
. The Xoom will reportedly offer both front and rear cameras, although Motorola wouldn't comment when contacted by
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.
are also expected to debut Android tablets, with Toshiba rumored to have readied a 10-inch Honeycomb version.
could also unveil the successor to its Streak mini-tablet,
. "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
, which has struggled for many years to launch a viable tablet, will reportedly show devices running the ubiquitous, low-powered
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
Microsoft partnered up with
, 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
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
, 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
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
that Palm will not have a big presence at CES.
Tablets will also debut from a slew of less-known firms, including
and Samsung rival
, 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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