Computer makers Lenovo and Acer are reportedly planning to release tablet devices running the Windows 8 platform from Microsoft and sporting Intel chips known as Clover Trail. A DigiTimes report quoted sources in the "upstream supply chain" as saying that PC players are putting more hope on Intel's Clover Trail platform as Medfield, designed by Intel for Android-based smartphones and tablet PCs, is "eclipsed by ARM-based processors in terms of performance and power saving."
The report also says the combined Windows and Intel (Wintel) tablets could be available in the third quarter, finding strong demand in the enterprise as tablet sales grow and users familiar with Microsoft applications look for a platform they are familiar with. Acer and Lenovo join other technology giants, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Microsoft mobile platform partner Nokia in their plans for a Windows-based tablet to rival Apple's iPad. Apple continues to lead the overall tablet market with close to 70 percent market share worldwide.
While the tablet market continues to expand, several companies have had less than stellar results following their investment in this space, including HP and BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion, which recently reduced the price for all of its PlayBook tablets, ranging the 16GB model to the 64GB version, to $299 in hopes of spurring sales. The company said the sale would end Feb. 4.
Google is also wading into the tablet manufacturing space in 2012 after seeing its mobile operating platform Android gain market share through the release of tablets from Motorola and Samsung. Last week, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt let slip to the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera that the company was planning to directly manufacture tablet devices "of the highest quality" and mentioned a six-month window for production. The Google tablet would likely be marketed under the company's Nexus brand, which also includes smartphones.
Apple is also rumored to be releasing the third iteration of its iPad tablet in March or April. In the past few months, reports on the Web have indicated that Apple is planning on some sort of higher-resolution display for the next iPad, possibly of the same quality as the "retina display" currently available in later-model iPhones. The company may also release a small-screen version of the iPad later in 2012.
Nearly three quarters of U.S. small and midsize businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees have plans to purchase tablets over the next 12 months, with the iPad being the most considered tablet among those firms planning an upcoming purchase, according to IT research firm NPD Group's third-quarter SMB Technology Monitor. Among the SMBs surveyed, 73 percent said they plan to purchase tablets in the next 12 months, up from 68 percent in the NPD Group's second-quarter survey.