Velocity Micro will join MIPS Technologies in showing off low-cost tablets running Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Chip maker MIPS Technologies teamed with Ingenic to launch the $100 Novo7 Ice Cream Sandwich tablet in China. That 7-inch slate is powered by a 1GHz CPU from MIPS and will be displayed at the show next week.
Velocity Micro will tout two tablets next week at the show: the 7-inch Cruz Tablet T507 for less than $150 and the 9.7-inch Cruz Tablet T510, for which pricing will be under $250. Both machines support Flash Player 11, the multimedia software Adobe is phasing out for mobile devices in favor of HTML5.
The T507 includes a Cortex A8 1.2GHz CPU and ARM Mali 400MHz 3D graphics acceleration, along with 512MB of double data rate type three (DDR3) RAM. The slate also has 8GB of internal storage, the same as Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire, though less than the 16GB and 32GB options for Samsung’s $399 Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus machine.
There is also a front-facing camera, High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) port and access to Kindle for Android, and QuickOffice Full. Interestingly, Velocity Micro opted to offer consumers access to Amazon’s Appstore for Android Apps instead of Google’s own Android Market.
The 9.7-inch Cruz Tablet T510 offers the same features and functionality of its smaller brother, but is only 0.35 inches thick. Both tablets are expected to launch later this quarter.
The Ice Cream Sandwich tablets come after tablets based on Google’s Android 3.x Honeycomb branch largely failed to generate interest in 2011, thanks to early bugginess and the lackluster launch of the Xoom slate from Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MOT).
Motorola’s new Honeycomb-based Droid Xyboard slates are superior to the Xoom in most ways, and are priced between $529 and $729.
One area that even Ice Cream Sandwich doesn’t address is the paucity of applications available for Android tablets, which some peg at around 200 applications. Contrast that to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, for which developers have written more than 120,000 applications to date.
To wit, ABI Research said iPad users are estimated to have downloaded a total of 3 billion applications since the launch of the iPad in 2010, while Android tablets only have around 440 million downloads thus far.
“Discounting all those apps that were originally developed for Android smartphones, Android still trails greatly behind the iPad in terms of its tablet app offerings,” ABI research associate Lim Shiyang wrote in a Jan. 3 research note.
“Many Android tablets in the market are still using older versions of Android, which disadvantages users from enjoying the better effects of apps produced from more advanced software development kits.”
ABI expects the tide to turn a little in 2012, as the arrival of Ice Cream Sandwich helps accelerate product development. MIPS and Velocity hope to see their ICS tablets supported in this fashion.