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.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.