Lenovo to release tablet PC at year's end

Called the LePad, the tablet will use the Android OS.

After releasing its own handset to compete with Apple's iPhone, Lenovo looks like it may be preparing to take on the iPad. The Chinese company plans on releasing its own tablet PC at the end of the year.

The device will be called the "LePad" and will use the Android mobile operating system, according to recent comments made by Liu Jun, senior vice president and president at Lenovo's Consumer Business Group, and confirmed by the company.

The product's development comes as Lenovo's chairman said earlier this month that Apple CEO Steve Job hasn't been focused on the Chinese market. "If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, (Lenovo) would be in trouble," Liu Chuanzhi told the Financial Times.

This year, Lenovo began selling its own smart phone called "LePhone." The company has said in the past Lenovo's strategy is to "win" in China before Lenovo begins selling the phone abroad. Lenovo also believes the mobile Internet hardware and services could become 10 to 20 percent of the company's business over these next five years.

Other Chinese companies have also developed their own tablets, with some even billing their devices as imitation iPads. But Lenovo would be one of the larger companies to take on building such a device.

"Lenovo has a strong brand name that resonates with local buyers. That's something that's in their favor," said Bryan Ma, associate vice president for IDC Asia-Pacific, of the company's plans.

IDC predicts that in 2011, shipments for media tablets will rise to 1 million for both China and Taiwan combined. In 2014, that number is expected to grow to 4 million. But how the tablet market in China will develop still remains to be seen, Ma added.

"There are still questions about what applications are (these tablets) going to be used for. What kind of interest will they attract," he said.

As for Apple, the company will start selling its iPad in Hong Kong this Friday. It has yet to announce plans to sell the iPad in mainland China.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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