Taiwanese smartphone R&D shifts to tablets

Research and development resources in Taiwan are being diverted away from the production of smartphones by major vendors and buyers in order to begin developing tablet PCs.

Vendora such as Asustek and Acer, as well as manufacturers like Foxconn, Inventec and Compal, have acquired in-house or affiliated smartphone research and development resources, according to industry sources.

Despite continued high demand in the smartphone market, the expectation of a boom in the new and untapped tablet market has diverted attention from an area where there is fierce competition. Some could miss out on smartphone orders because of bandwagon hopping.

Alan Chang, a managing director at PC monitor firm ViewSonic Corp, is confident there is massive potential in the tablet market and has just launched his first tablet in Taiwan.

“Tablets are set to replace netbooks, especially those that are bundled with telecoms operators’ subscription plans,” said Chang at yesterday’s product launch.

ViewSonic has high expectations for market growth, forecasting  between 40 million to 45 million units being sold next year alone.

Pre-ordering  of ViewSonic’s  Viewad has begun with the tablet expected to reach shops next week. The 7-inch ViewPad 7 tablet will retail at NT$14,900 (US$484) and Chang is expecting to see sales in the region of two million in the next year.  By comparison it is thought that Apple will see 25 million units shifted in 2011.

ViewSonic has also announced the development of a10-inch version of the tablet running on both Windows and Android operating systems.

While it is inevitable that Apple’s iPad is going to have a large share of any tablet PC market, it is yet to be seen whether or not such massive sales predictions will be met, or indeed whether the tablet proves to just be a rather expensive flash in the pan. We recently revealed that Taiwanese are having language problems with the iPad – a localised launch, if done right, could be just the ticket.