Microsoft Tablet? Buzz Says iPad Rival Due
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), the world's biggest software company, is expected to make a new consumer push by announcing its own Windows Tablet for shipment next quarter, industry analysts said.
In January, Ballmer said Redmond, Wash., company would unleash its new Windows 8 software on the full array of PCs, phones and tablets at the International Consumer Electronics Show, where he appeared with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) CEO Stephen Elop to endorse the Finnish company's Lumia smartphones that use Windows 8.
During Ballmer's CES appearance, Tami Reller, chief marketing officer for Windows, said her staff was working "to bring Windows applications" to all products based on chips from ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH) of the UK, which is the principal supplier to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), the developer of the iPad.
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Industry analysts and PC blogs suggested the Microsoft tablet might also resemble some the Kindle Fire from Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), the No. 1 e-retailer, which has sold more than 5 million units since November.
Microsoft in April invested $300 million in Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS), the developer of the Nook, a rival of the Kindle and Kindle Fire, as well as the iPad in the media market.
Microsoft already has extensive media relationships with the likes of News Corp. (NYSE: NWS), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) for programming for its popular Xbox, so they could be extended to the tablet sector.
Microsoft executives also showed how Windows 8 would work on tablets at the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona, Spain, in February, without saying the company would have its own tablet.
Tablets are a growing market with sales expected to jump 85 percent this year to 127 million, market researcher IHS iSuppli predicted last month. Apple is expected to take a 61 percent share this year, with tablets based on the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android OS with 38.4 percent.
Shares of Microsoft rose 68 cents to close at $30.02 Friday, while Apple shares rose $2.60 cents to $574.13. U.S. shares of ARM rose 30 cents to $23.22.
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