Sony, Watching iPad Sales, Considers a Tablet of Its Own

Sony will develop an iPad-like tablet PC, should it decide that consumer interest is great enough, Bloomberg reported. Sony's knack for catering to the high-end may not be a fit for tablets, however, where major sales are only expected to follow from big price drops.

Sony is considering developing a tablet-style PC, not unlike the Apple iPad, if enough consumers say they're interested in purchasing one, Bloomberg reported May 14, following an interview with Mike Abary, vice president of Sony's Information Technology Products unit.
"We have been taking a deep look at developing a tablet for a number of years, not just because of Apple but because it creates some interesting opportunities," Abary told Bloomberg.
While not yet entirely convinced of the demand for such a device, the iPad has offered Sony executives a gauge for measuring consumer sentiments. "Now we can get a good judgment as to whether the market is truly accepting of it," said Abery.
If the more than 1 million iPads Apple sold in the device's first month on the market aren't enough of an indicator, a May survey from Boston Consulting Group likewise found a considerable interest in tablets among consumers worldwide.
BCG expects 50 to 75 percent of consumers to purchase such a device within the next three years. However, widespread adoption, the survey found, will depend on a drop in prices. "The sweet spot for multipurpose devices seems to be $130 to $200 [and] $100 to $150 for single-purpose devices," the report stated.
BCG additionally found 66 percent of the consumers it surveyed to prefer a multipurpose device, to the 24 percent who would rather a single-purpose one.
Sony, for now, appears to be bucking this finding. Currently, the company plans to continue investing in its Reader line of e-readers, Abary told Bloomberg, noting that they're Sony's fastest-growing type of product.
On the price-point front, too, Sony may find its current tactics to run against consumer desores. "The company's Vaio division has maintained profitability by concentrating on more expensive configurations for well-heeled customers," Bloomberg reported. "The company has avoided jumping into crowded markets that are under heavy pressure to cut prices."
Indeed, a desire for lower prices has been duly expressed, with even Apple acknowledging it could be a bit gentler on the pricing front in the future. And should Sony choose to jump in to the market, it will find itself competing with not only Apple but Hewlett-Packard - which is expected to launch a tablet running Palm's webOS - and Dell, among others.
In March, research firm Gartner forecast sales of tablet devices to reach 10.5 million units by year's end.