At AsiaD this week, Google’s Andy Rubin noted that there were at least six million Android tablets in use. That number included only those running Google services. One could question whether the briskly selling Nook Color — which is not open to Android apps at large — is relevant to that tally, at least from a developer perspective. It will certainly be the case, though, that the Kindle Fire — also expected to be a hot seller — will be an important addition to the number moving forward.
Still, Rubin conceded, it was a tally far behind that of the 30 million cumulative units of the iPad, which broke open the modern-day tablet category, extended its lead with the iPad 2, and will likely see another revision this coming spring. When Apple introduced its tablet device, it set a precedent for third-party developers by rewriting core applications to take advantage of the iPad’s larger display with “HD” versions. And while there are still far fewer native iPad apps than iPhone apps, Apple is far ahead in the race for native tablet software.
We just witnessed quite the interview between ASUS chairman Jonney Shih and Walt Mossberg at AsiaD, and outside of revealing the Transformer Prime (and affirming that the impending Padfone would ship with Android 4.0), he also dropped a few other nuggets worth mention to the audience here in Hong Kong. For starters, he finally caved to Walt’s pestering about who his main competition was, specifically related to the new Zenbook. “The Mac[Book] Air,” he stated, chuckling slyly afterwards, but quickly continuing on to plug his own machine based on its own merits. Not surprisingly, he also expressed his confidence that Android tablets still had a lot of life left in the market, and he stated that ASUS is still on track to move its target — around two million — Android tablets this year. Moving onto the topic of netbooks, Shih noted that rather than being buried, netbooks are simply “evolving.” More importantly, however, was his subtle confirmation that a new ASUS netbook is en route: “You’ll see on our new netbook, it’ll be very thin.” In fact, he even suggested that the design may follow that of the Zenbook, but just… smaller.
When asked about his thoughts on people replacing laptops less frequently, and perhaps shifting disposable income to smartphones and tablets, Jonney maintained that all of those markets were key to ASUS’ success, and that none were taking a backseat. “We believe that this a very critical time, transitioning from the personal computing era to the ubiquitous cloud computing era.” Sounds a bit like another mantra we heard, truth be told, but ASUS has been riding the cloud bandwagon long before most other consumer companies even knew what it was. The original spate of Eee PCs had next to no internal storage; rather, they relied on accessing the web in order to deliver the bulk of their functionality. Jonney also noted that ASUS is attempting to tackle an interesting problem with its products, which is that few people can truly separate work and entertainment — in other words, you need products that adequately handle both worlds. We’re guessing a Padfone + Transformer Prime + Zenbook is his preferred trifecta to do just that.
ASUS’ Jonney Shih unveils Transformer Prime Android tablet: 10-inch, 8.3mm, quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3
Whoa, Nelly! ASUS head honcho Jonney Shih just revealed the “next-generation Transformer tablet” here at AsiaD! It’s the same one that we saw teased just yesterday, and Jonney affirmed that it’ll ship with a quad-core NVIDIA chip, 10-inch display, mini-HDMI port, a 14.5-hour battery, an SD card slot and a top lid that looks precisely like its Zenbook line. Oh, and it’s 8.3mm thick, though Jonney didn’t specify as to whether that was docked or undocked (we’re guessing the former!). Naturally, it’ll ship with Android, and we’re assuming it’ll be Honeycomb to start. That said, Shih did affirm to Walt Mossberg that he expects Ice Cream Sandwich to hit tablets by the end of the year — “perhaps earlier.” Finally, we were informed that it’ll be called the Transformer Prime, and while a final ship date wasn’t given, we’re told to expect more news on that front during the November 9th “official reveal.”
We’ve heard an awful lot about a Windows tablet OS this past year, with stirrings of a 2012 launch — heck, even Steve Ballmer’s fanned the flames of speculation — and now the rumor mill’s been set in motion with word of an impending preview expected next week. According to Bloomberg, three sources have confirmed Microsoft’s plan to flaunt the much-anticipated UI, possibly at upcoming appearances at AllThingsD and Computex. The showcase is supposedly set to run the touchscreen-enabled software on a Tegra-equipped machine. We’d previously reported on stirrings of a June demo. Considering all the evidence that’s stacked up over the past few months, we’d say 2012 is looking like a rather practical target.