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Lenovo heats up price war with $199 IdeaPad tablet

Lenovo is launching its 7-inch IdeaPad A1 tablet in a market hungry for inexpensive tablets

By Agam Shah
September 1, 2011 12:07 PM ET

IDG News Service - Lenovo announced a new $199 IdeaPad tablet with a 7-inch screen and Google's Android OS in response to the surge in demand for inexpensive tablets, the company said Thursday.

The IdeaPad A1 tablet weighs around 400 grams (0.88 pounds) and is under 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters) thick, and will become available in specific starting around the end of September, said Nick Reynolds, executive director of global marketing at Lenovo. The tablet provides seven hours of battery life.

The tablet will be among the cheapest 7-inch Android tablets available from a top device maker. Many competitive products cost more than $250. Acer last month started shipping its 7-inch Iconia Tab A100 tablet for $329, and Samsung's 7-inch Galaxy Tab screen sells for $279 through Amazon.com and Fry's Electronics.

"This is a very accessible price point starting at $199," Reynolds said. Lenovo views the tablet as a companion to PCs, and a low price will open up demand for tablets, especially in emerging markets, Reynolds said.

Lenovo's new tablet comes as prices for Android tablets drop in an effort to challenge the market dominance of Apple's iPad 2, whose rock-steady $499 starting price has not changed since its launch earlier this year. One of the first Android tablets, Samsung's 7-inch Galaxy Tab, went on sale late last year through Verizon starting at $600 without a contract, and was considered overpriced. But Android tablet prices have fallen. Unbranded tablets sell for as little as $100. Consumers last month scrambled to buy Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad tablet, which was priced starting at $99 in a fire sale after the company announced it would stop selling webOS devices. Buyers' frenzy over the TouchPads was such that HP on Tuesday said it would make a final round of the devices and have them ready for sale in coming weeks.

Android tablet prices are falling because the supplier base is large while the demand is little, said David Daoud, research director at IDC. But at $199, Lenovo may be willing to forgo profits in lieu of building consumer awareness around its tablets, Daoud said. That is a challenge other Android tablet makers have failed at with Apple holding a firm grip on the market.

"The price point could put Lenovo in a very competitive position," Daoud said.

But Lenovo needs more help beyond a low price to succeed in the tablet market, Daoud said. Apple's iPad success comes from a cohesive set of hardware, software and services, and Lenovo has to provide reasons beyond just hardware for people to buy its tablets, Daoud said. Lenovo earlier this year launched three tablets, including the ThinkPad Tablet, for consumers and enterprises.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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