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Apple iPad has tablet market cornered -- for now

The Taiwanese company Acer says it will not produce its own tablet computer in 2010. That leaves the Apple iPad the flat-screen machine to beat.

By Matthew Shaer / February 1, 2010

TV host Stephen Colbert holds up an Apple iPad at Sunday night's Grammy Awards show in Los Angeles. The host of Comedy Central's Colbert Report pulled the gadget out of the pocket of his sport coat.

Mike Blake/Reuters

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Late last month, Bloomberg News reported that the Taiwan-based Acer would wade into the e-book and applications market, a move presumably intended to counter the buzz surrounding the Apple iPad. But according to DigiTimes, Acer Taiwan president Scott Lin announced that while Acer had the capability to build a tablet, it would focus instead on ultra-light laptops in 2010.

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Lin's reasoning had everything to do with the popularity of iTunes, and the ability of the Apple iPad to attract hordes of third-party developers. "Historically, closed platforms are typically limited in terms of scale and are confined to niche markets," Lin said. "Apple has built is business out of carving its own niche, which means that while Apple could see success with devices like the iPad, other players are unlikely to be able to replicate its result simply by copying."

Translation: Going head-to-head with the Apple iPad could leave Acer badly scarred. Instead, Lin said he'd put Acer's weight behind full-size and ultra-thin laptops, and low-cost, low-power notebooks. Interestingly, the DigiTimes seems to contradict earlier statements from Jim Wong, the head of the IT Products at Acer. Speaking to Bloomberg News on Jan. 25, Wong said that Acer was currently building an applications store and a tablet-like reading device.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble; they are U.S.-centric. In Western Europe and Asia-Pacific we have publishers to work with, and most of them are content owners,” Wong told Bloomberg.

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Over to you. Do you have plans to purchase an Apple iPad? Could you be convinced to buy a similar tablet device from a competing company, if the price was right? Read up on our iPad topics page, and then drop us a line in the comments section or via Twitter.

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