The launch of Apple's iPad tablet device has triggered speculation that device vendors, including Nokia, HP, Microsoft, Google, Dell and others, are planning to enter the market later this year with competitive products.
But analysts are already issuing warnings about the unproven appeal of this new device category (aside from Apple fanatics), with some sceptics already claiming that the current iPad marketing hype will fade as the mass market thinks twice about buying a €500 toy.
Most attention has been focused on the possibility of Nokia unveiling an iPad-like device this autumn following reports that the company was working with suppliers and design manufacturers on a touch-screen tablet.
Nokia is expected to base its tablet around the new MeeGo operating system that is being developed in partnership with Intel. "Getting a strong Intel backing here could be an important advantage," said MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen, who sees the Nokia tablet as part of an array of mobile computers.
However, pricing and timing are critical if Nokia has any hope for success in tablets. "The problem here is that the pricing of tablets is likely to drop at a furious pace over the next four quarters," said Kuittinen. "Nokia needs to get its products out fast and ramp up the production rapidly or it's going to be tough to play catch-up. Nokia simply has to make a go at this segment, since it may end up cannibalising the high-end smartphone market substantially."
While potential vendors hurry to launch tablets, consumers that purchased the iPad are already encountering problems with the most widespread being connecting the device to Wi-Fi networks. Hundreds have apparently complained about the weak reception capabilities of the iPad leading to slow or disrupted downloads. Apple has responded by suggesting any problems were due to Wi-Fi router issues.
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