Microsoft’s Surface tablet may be getting some competition in the coming months from slates made by HTC and Redmond ally Nokia.
HTC is reportedly planning two tablets—one with a 12-inch display, the other, a seven-incher—both based on Windows RT, the version of Microsoft’s operating system for ARM processors.
The HTC tablets will be released in the third quarter next year, says a Bloomberg report citing sources familiar with the company’s plans.
A seven-inch RT tablet would be a first for the operating system and give the Microsoft mobile ecosystem a direct competitor to the iPad Mini, Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire, and Barnes & Noble Nook HD.
The sub-10-inch tablet market will be an important one in the coming year.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of interesting things happen over the next year in terms of how small tablets impact the market for tablets, PCs and smartphones,” NPD Group Analyst Stephen Baker said in an interview.
He explained that the leaders in the seven-inch tablet market—Amazon, Google, and Barns & Noble—have hit a sweet spot of $199 to $249 that can’t be matched by a 10-inch tablet or notebook computer.
That spot could get even sweeter if Google and Asus release a $99 version of their Nexus 7 tablet, as has been reported by DigiTimes. Information about that slate has been bleeding into the Internet for months. A putative photo of the device even appeared on the Net this week.
Pricing for the rumored HTC RT tablets haven’t been reported. Microsoft’s Surface tablet, based on RT, sells for a base price of $499. The price leader in the seven-inch arena is the Mac Mini, with a base price of $329.
According to Bloomberg, HTC also considered making a tablet based on Windows 8, but ditched those plans because it would have to be priced at around $1000 to make any profits, and HTC considered that price would make the slates too difficult to move from retail shelves.
Meanwhile, the old chestnut that Nokia will introduce a 10-inch Windows tablet reemerged this week. Nokia originally planned to release an RT tablet earlier this year, but tabled those plans when Microsoft introduced its Surface tablet, according to DigiTimes.
Now the idea is back on the drawing board, DigiTimes reports, and a 10-inch Nokia RT slate could be introduced as early as February, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
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John Mello writes on technology and cyber security for a number of online publications and is former managing editor of the Boston Business Journal and Boston Phoenix. Disclosure: He also writes for Hewlett-Packad's marketing website TechBeacon.