iPad killer? Microsoft’s new tablet

Apple’s iPads have taken the world by storm, but the competition is coming and Microsoft has Apple in its sights.

Analysts estimate that more than 84 million iPads have been sold since their debut in 2010. Approximately seven out of every ten tablets shipped is an iPad.

Several competitors have tried to get in on the act including Amazon with its various Kindle versions and Samsung with its Galaxy line of tablets. Now arch-rival Microsoft is ready to launch its own tablets – called Surface – that are expected to go head to head with the iPad and other tablets, but its also going to compete against laptop computers, as it comes with a cover that doubles as an ultra-thin touch keyboard. The Surface tablet also includes USB and HDMI ports as well as speakers, dual microphones and a microSD slot.

The Surface tablet runs a version of Windows 8 called RT, and will run any app available at the Windows store. According to reviews, Microsoft hasn’t done a bad job, and the tablet is far more creative and polished than many Android tablets.

The hurdles though will be in convincing users that it’s a comparable tablet to the iPad and other leading tablets, and making it competitive on prices.

Australian consumer electronics retailers like Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX: HVN), Dick Smith Electronics – owned by Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW), JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX: JBH) and Officeworks – owned by Wesfarmers Limited (ASX: WES), will be licking their lips at the prospect of the new Microsoft tablet. With the recent release of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, competition in the tablet space is heating up. The touch screen Microsoft tablet will likely have an effect on laptop computers as well, with makers forced into action to combat it, which could result in tablets being released by the likes of Dell, HP, Toshiba and Lenovo.

No doubt a whole bucketload of accessories will also need to be sold alongside the new tablets, including covers, chargers, and cables. Good news indeed for the retailers.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in JB Hi-Fi and Woolworths. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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