Sony cooks up ideas for iPad competitor

Sony is considering entering the tablet market with an iPad killer of its own, but won’t commit to anything yet until it is sure there is enough consumer demand for them, according to reports from Bloomberg.

“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,” said Mike Abary, senior vice president of Sony’s Information Technology Products unit.

“The iPad has created a new opportunity. Now we can get a good judgment as to whether the market is truly accepting of it. We are not convinced there is a large enough market to justify bringing out a tablet,” he said.

Tell that to the one million people who bought iPads in under a month of its initial launch.

Sony is not the only company to consider dabbling in the tablet market, but it’s certainly the most hesitant, particularly for such a big company. Hewlett-Packard has been working on several tablets, including the Slate and Hurricane. Asus has been working on the Eee Pad. There are rumours of a BlackBerry tablet on the horizon. And, of course, there’s Google’s plans to enter the market.

Perhaps on seeing just how flooded the market will become and how much competition there will be Sony is reluctant to dip its toes in the water. This crushes earlier rumours that Sony would follow its rivals swiftly  into the tablet market. In early March the Wall Street Journal hinted at the development of a tablet-like device. So much for that.

Abary said that Sony will focus on its Reader devices for now as it gauges the tablet market. The Sony Reader is playing catch-up with Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, but is one of Sony’s best-selling products. With sales plummeting in other parts of Sony’s empire it’s understandable why it would be reluctant on the tablet when the Reader is doing so well.

Sony is hoping to bring out a new version of its Reader with improved wireless connectivity and battery life, as well as the ability to display full colour. Plans for this will not come into reality until at least 2011.