Sony planning an Android tablet PC to compete for Apple’s iPad tablet crown

Posted on 27 May 2010 by Android

Japan’s consumer electronics giant, Sony has a plan to take on the Apple iPad, the company has confirmed in talks with the Wall Street Journal.

Sony Chief Financial Officer Nobuyuki Oneda said Sony “has to develop a device similar to Apple’s iPad tablet computer, because it is a different product category than the company’s existing electronic-book reader.”

In an attempt to get this going, Sony is engaged in setting up an investment with Samsung in which the partners will begin a new manufacturing line of LCD screens, forecasting a “major increase in flatscreen TV sales”.

We think this is potentially a big deal, and certainly a threat Apple must take seriously. Here’s some notions:

Sony is already working with Google. Sony appeared at Google’s I/O event last week to announce its plan to create a Google TV-powered product line. Sony Corp. Chairman Sir Howard Stringer held a press conference about its forthcoming Android-based Internet TV, saying, “This really is a very big deal.”

As TG notes, “Stringer has put the finishing touches on a vast management change in Sony’s TV group by turning its reins over to a group of managers who previously managed Sony’s VAIO PC,  PlayStation, networking, and mobile groups.”

The new management group get TVs, processors, operating systems, and applications, too. (Don’t neglect, for example, that the graphics chip used inside the iPad is also used in the Google TV to be manufactured by Logitech and Sony).

While Apple holds the mantle in consumer product design, Sony doesn’t do too badly itself…remember the Walkman? The Vaio laptops? Perhaps even the Viao P netbook, powered by an Intel Atom processor?

Sony deliver a good-looking tablet-based product, running the Android OS. This would both help the company deliver the eBook reader it is plotting, and also add elements taken from Android, and Sony’s own product portfolio.

Last year we reported on Sony’s plans to launch its own music, movies and gaming service, based on its existing PlayStation Network (PSN), which already has 33 million users..

The new store competes with Apple’s iTunes service and associated digital media products. It is also expected to sell eBooks and mobile apps.

Google last week announced its own music downloads service via its Android Market.

We can imagine Sony will also enable its Android-powered products to run versions of its own Sony PlayStation games. Why not? It would only be a process of leveraging its own content.

Open to question is if a Sony-designed Android-powered tablet device, boosted by a content consumption ecosystem and ebook reading features will be enough to combat Apple’s growing iPad mindshare.

We think Apple executives will be seriously considering this new challenge, coming as it does from a company Apple CEO Steve Jobs has frequently said he has a lot of respect for. How can they respond?

What do you think?

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