The company is betting on China to make its mark in the increasingly crowded tablet market.
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Dell on Thursday said that its Dell Streak 10 Pro tablet is now available in China.
The 10-inch tablet runs version 3.1 of the Android operating system, known as Honeycomb. It features a dual-core nVidia Tegra 2 mobile processor running at 1 GHz, 16 GB of internal storage, and a SDHC card slot that can accommodate up to 32 GB. Its 1200 x 800 WGXA screen supports 10-point capacitive multitouch input and includes both front-facing (2 megapixel) and rear-facing cameras (5 megapixel).
The device can handle 1080p video and includes GPS, gyro, accelerometer, compass sensors, as well as dual stereo speakers and two microphones.
The Streak 10 Pro is being offered at a special promotional price of RMB 2,999, which is about $461 in U.S. dollars. That promotion ends Friday, July 29, and thereafter the normal price will be RMB 3,699, or about $562.
"The fact that we're launching it in China first underscores the importance of China to Dell overall," said Michael Tatelman, VP of consumer sales and marketing for the company, in a blog post. "More people are online in China than anywhere else in the world, and IDC estimates that more than 900 million people are expected to come online in China alone in the next 10 years."
Some of the many people in China are bound to buy Dell's tablet, but it remains to be seen whether the company can attract enough customers to alter the balance of power in the tablet market.
Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney expressed some skepticism about Dell's move. "China looks favorable on Android and if it's made by a Chinese manufacturer, it could do well," he said in an email. "Also, they may prefer the smaller size devices such as the 10.1 inch screen. But with over 200 tablets coming, Dell will have many challenges. So my conclusion is that they are going to have a rough time with this. Frankly, I think Dell needs to decide whether it might be too late to be in this business except as a niche player."
The Apple iPad has plenty of competition nowadays. Research firm Strategy Analytics reported earlier this month that Apple's iOS-based iPad accounted for over 94% of the global tablet shipments in Q2 2010, but only 61.3% in Q2 2011. Global Android tablet shipments meanwhile have risen from 2.9% to 30.1% during the same period.
But shipping a tablet is only half the battle. People have to buy them and, to date, they're still mostly buying iPads. As an example, Motorola said it expects to sell between 1.3 million and 1.5 million Xoom tablets this year, based on Q2 sales of 440,000. Apple sold 9.25 million iPads during the same period, the company's fiscal Q3.
Web browsing statistics gathered by Net Applications underscore the slow sales of Android tablets. The research firm found that more than 9 out of 10 tablets viewing Web pages are iPads.
The picture among enterprises appears to be similar. The iPad accounted for more than 95% of tablet activations that Good Technology conducted for corporate clients during Q2 2011, the company said. During this period, Android tablet activations declined slightly to 3.1%.
Yet if individual tablet makers have trouble matching Apple's sales, together they may still gain traction.
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