ARM exec says: $100 tablets are the key to mass adoption

This week, ARM said what several people seem to have figured out: The key to mass adoption for smartphones and tablets is the $100 price point.

It may happen this year. It’s not hard to find a decently fast $80 Android tablet, but you’ll have to put up with a sub-optimal screen to get it–800×480.

To me, the key to getting a good, usable tablet at the $100 price point is still the upcoming Polaroid M7 tablet, expected to sell for $120 or $130. If it actually delivers a 1280×800 screen or thereabouts, then that leaves nowhere for the 1024×600 screens to go, other than the $100 price point.

If Polaroid’s tablet turns out to be good otherwise, then almost anyone ought to be able to take a similar design, drop in a lower-res screen, and sell for a little less.

Here’s what I can see happening later this year: 7-inch tablets at several price points between $100 and $200, and they’ll be able to mix up CPUs, screens, and memory capacity at the various price points. At $200, you’d get something Nexus 7-like, and at $100, you’d get a low-end 2- or 4-core SoC, 512 MB RAM, 8 GB flash, and a 1024×600 display.

And then at each $10 or $20 interval, they could offer progressively nicer screens, CPUs, GPUs, memory capacities, and the like.

That could be optimal. Because there might be some people who just want a high-resolution display, but can live with a little bit slower performance; and others who are willing to sacrifice some resolution to get more speed. It could very well be that sometime this year, for $150, you would have a choice.

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