Toshiba to bring tablet to U.S. early next year

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted Oct. 5, 2010 at 2:25 p.m.

Toshiba Corp. plans to release new tablet devices in the U.S., Japan and elsewhere early next year, a top engineer at the company involved in the development of tablet computers told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

“The market for tablets is very hot right now,” said Hideo Kasuya on the sidelines of the annual Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, near Tokyo.

Toshiba’s releases will come amid a rush of new tablets from rivals including Samsung Electronics Co., which  announced plans to sell its tablet in Japan earlier Tuesday.

Last month, Toshiba unveiled its Folio 100 tablet at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, saying it will be launched in Europe, the Middle East and Africa by the end of this year.

On Tuesday, Kasuya said in an interview that the company is also preparing to release tablets in other parts of the world, including the U.S. and Japan, though the name Folio 100 might not feature among them, Kasuya said.

Toshiba — the world’s fifth largest maker of laptop personal computers as of the April-June quarter, according to research firm IDC — aims to become a major player in the  tablet market  dominated by Apple Inc.’s  iPad.

But this new product category is starting to look crowded, as makers of computers and cellphone handsets are rushing to roll out their own tablets. Many of those non-Apple tablets run on Google Inc.’s  Android operating system.

Earlier Tuesday, Samsung said it will release in Japan its Galaxy Tab  in late November. Another Japanese rival, Sharp Corp., plans to launch its Galapagos tablet, which the company describes primarily as an electronic book reader, in Japan in December and in the U.S. next year.

As many as a few dozen companies are expected to release  tablets this year. U.S. Research firm iSuppli projects this year’s total global shipment of tablet computers at 15.4 million units, and expects the figure to more than triple to 48.3 million units next year.

“Players in the tablet market are not limited to traditional PC makers,” said Kasuya. “The general trend is that Android-based tablets are becoming more and more widespread.”

Toshiba’s tablets t also expected to run on Android, though details are not complete, Kasuya added.

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