PC-maker Lenovo will launch a tablet device running Google's Android operating system before the end of this year, according to a report in TradingMarkets.com.
The tablet, called the LePad, will "echo LePhone," Lenovo's Android-running smartphone, in functions like email and Web browsing, Lenovo Group Senior Vice President Liu Jun told Trading Markets. Lenovo first introduced the slim LePhone - which features a 3.7-inch display and 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS connectivity - in January, though there's been little mention of it in U.S. markets since.
The site added that Liu said the LePad will be a "crucial part" of Lenovo's mobile Internet strategy, as it looks to expand "in the 3G era."
While Lenovo has for years made ThinkPad and IdeaPad convertible tablets, with major appeal to health care, field service and other enterprise verticals, the LePad appears to be more consumer-geared. Following the success of Apple's iPad, tablet PCs are increasingly being added to manufacturers' roadmaps, and the LePad may wind up competing against not just the Apple iPad but a number of products about to come online.
For example, Hewlett-Packard, which holds top billing in worldwide PC market share, is said to be working on various tablets, each running a different operating system. While it has reportedly put an Android-running tablet on hold this year, in mid July it applied to trademark the term PalmPad - likely for a tablet running Palm's WebOS.
Google and Verizon Wireless have also announced that they're at work on an Android-based tablet.
New tablets are expected to come to market in the second half of 2010, and on July 20 ABI Research increased its forecast for media tablet shipments in 2010 to 11 million tablets. "Assuming that competing tablets from other vendors do arrive in the second half of the year as expected, we believe that the iPad will account for a significant portion - but not all - of the projected 11 million units," ABI Principal Analyst Jeff Orr said in a statement.
ABI added that the buzz around tablets is affecting other parts of the consumer electronics industry. "Most of the volume that we've projected for the [mobile internet device] category since 2007 is now being taken over by other device form factors: media tablets, but also smartphones," said Orr, "which are assuming more and more of the functionality that was envisioned for these -non-voice handsets.'"
Lenovo may additionally add to this disruptive group of devices. Following the release of the LePad, Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing told Trading Markets that the Internet-focused Lenovo Group is poised to offer "a series of new products."