SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Toshiba Corp is the latest company to jump into the rapidly growing tablet market with a 10-inch device called Thrive, priced slightly lower than Apple Inc’s dominant iPad 2.
The Toshiba tablet goes on sale in the United States on July 10th. Other companies, including Research in Motion Ltd and Hewlett-Packard Co, are also entering the market.
Toshiba’s Thrive, a wifi-only device with the base model starting at $429, is primarily aimed at consumers who use tablets at home, said Jeff Barney, general manager of digital products for Toshiba America.
The devices -- which run on Google Inc’s Honeycomb version of the Android platform -- can be pre-ordered starting June 13 at retailers such as Best Buy Co Inc, Amazon.com Inc and other electronic retailers.
Global tablet sales are expected to explode to more than 50 million in 2011. Apple, which sold nearly 15 million iPads in nine months of 2010, is expected to continue to dominate the market in the near term.
And as in the smartphone market, Apple’s chief rival is expected to be Android platform, which is free to license and is being used on a number of tablets.
Barney said that, while Apple does have the best-selling product in the space, there is plenty of demand for other models.
“In the smartphone arena somehow the Android handsets have found a way to compete,” he said. “There is a market out there of folks who want to buy non-Apple products.”
Thrive, which has a removable battery, plays high-definition videos and is designed for Web browsing, games and electronic books.
Toshiba plans to launch additional tablet models later this year and could include devices with a high-speed mobile connections, Barney added.
Reporting by Poornima Gupta; editing by Andre Grenon