As expected, several Google Android (s goog) slates were unveiled at the IFA electronics show in Berlin, which kicked off yesterday. Three in particular are garnering buzz: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Toshiba’s Folio 100 and Viewsonic’s Viewpad 7. All three enter as underdogs though, because Apple’s iPad (s aapl) has owned the tablet market up to this point, and is estimated to sell 12.9 million units this year. So what chance of success do these three contenders have when compared to the iPad? Here are the odds of each selling just a million units as I see it, having used touchscreen and digital inking tablets since 2004.
Samsung Galaxy Tab. Samsung is wisely leveraging the design, hardware and success of its Galaxy S smartphone line, of which a million units have shipped in the U.S. since June. The Tab is essentially a blown-up Galaxy S handset with 7-inch capacitive screen running Android 2.2 at 1024 x 600 resolution. Unlike the iPad, the Galaxy Tab has front and back cameras. One huge positive for the Tab is support for all Google apps and the Android Market, two factors that have held back prior Android tablets from any chance of success. Prices — not officially announced yet — will be a factor however, as early talk at IFA indicates a €699 – 799 ($890 – $1,020 USD) price tag. That’s without carrier subsidies, however, and retailers could decide to price lower. Odds of selling a million tablets by year end: 4-1 if the price is competitive with the iPad, 10-1 if not.
Toshiba Folio 100. Toshiba isn’t a force in the smartphone market, so unlike Samsung, it took a top-down approach and built the Folio 100 from a smartbook design. Folio 100 gets a strong performance boost with its Nvidia (s nvda) Tegra 2 processor powering a 10-inch capacitive display. It too will run Android, but since the Folio 100’s hardware doesn’t meet Google’s specifications, there are no Google apps and no access to the Android Market. Instead, users can buy apps from Toshiba’s far more limited market — a factor that will limit Folio sales to all but the geek crowd. Below is a hands-on video from Carrypad that shows both the silky performance, as well as limitations without full Google support. Odds of selling a million tablets by year end: 50-1.
Viewsonic ViewPad 7. Another 7-inch entry, the ViewPad 7 isn’t hobbled by the lack of Android Market access, but could be handicapped based on the 600 MHz ARM chip that powers the device. It’s too early to make performance determinations, but I’d expect the ViewPad experience to lag behind both its fellow tablets and the iPad. Unfortunately, Viewsonic opted for an 800 x 480 screen, which is the bare minimum for a decent experience on a 7-inch display. The choices of CPU and screen are helping the keep the price down. The tablet is estimated to max out at €399, which may be compelling enough to make up for any potential performance pitfalls. Odds of selling a million tablets by year end: 30-1.
More competitors will likely jump into this market between now and year end — even more as the Android paltform matures. For now though, these three are trying to lead the fight against Apple’s iPad. Without the support of a massive and easy to use ecosystem, such as the iTunes App Store, none are likely to dethrone the iPad. But at the very least, if Android’s Froyo sounds tasty on a tablet, consumers have some reasonably good options.
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