AT&T, Dell, Best Buy bank on tablets

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), having tasted tablet success with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, is set to jump headlong into the tablet market, according to a key executive.

Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T's emerging devices and resale division, said the burgeoning tablet market represents a move toward an all-encompassing computing device, and that AT&T wants to make sure its network supports as many tablets as possible if consumers demand them. Apple sold a total of 3.27 million iPad tablets during its most recent quarter; AT&T provides 3G data support for the 3G models of the tablet in the U.S. market.

AT&T is working with a wide array of tablet makers, supporting a range of operating systems. The company recently launched Dell's Android-powered Streak tablet, which features a 5-inch screen, for $300 with a two-year contract. AT&T is also working with startup OpenPeak, which in June announced it raised $52 million from the likes of Intel and others.

"They are a close partner," Lurie told Investor's Business Daily, referring to OpenPeak. "They're in an exclusive relationship with us. We're definitely digging in with them. We've also got very strong relationships with Dell, HP and RIM (NASDAQ:RIMM). We're working with anybody and everybody that is building or talking about a tablet device."

Hewlett-Packard said it plans to release a tablet running on Palm's webOS platform early next year. RIM is reportedly working on a tablet called the "BlackPad" for release this year.

Meanwhile, Dell is keeping its eye on the tablet market. Dell plans to launch the Streak in Asian countries, including China and India, early next year, said Steve Felice, the company's president of consumer and small and medium business.

Separately, Best Buy too hopes to cash in on tablets. "Going into the holidays, we will make tablets a focus," said Shawn Score, the president of Best Buy Mobile, in an interview with Forbes. "Like ereaders over the last couple years, we think customers will think of Best Buy for tablets and expect us to have the right ones."

For more:
- see this Investor's Business Daily article
- see this WSJ blog post (sub. req.)
- see this Forbes article

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