With the iPad poised for its Saturday launch in the United States, rival companies are working on similar products to get a piece of a new market that's expected to grow rapidly. ABI Research expects four million tablets to ship this year, with 57 million hitting the market
in 2015. Processor manufacturer ARM is so confident that the iPad clone market is about to take off that it's reserved more space at a big trade show in Taiwan this summer, specifically to show off ARM-based tablets. And the inevitable Chinese knockoffs have begun appearing: everything from outsize iPhones to an ARM-powered lookalike supposedly running a version of the Android OS skinned to look like the Apple interface.
ARM is the dominant mobile processor manufacturer, with 98% of all mobile phones using at least one ARM chip
in their design. The company held a press conference in Taipei yesterday to show off two new tablet devices featuring their silicon. One will run Android OS and Windows CE, and come in 7-inch and 10.1-inch screen sizes, while the other Android device had a smaller screen and showed off Ubiquitous's QuickBoot technology
. Roy Chen, ARM's worldwide mobile computing ODM manager, told Computerworld
that he expected no fewer than fifty iPad clones this year
. "The first tablet devices will launch in the second quarter by [mobile network] carriers," he said. "You'll see a lot more in the third quarter."
Meanwhile, the crazy cloners of southern China aren't waiting for the market to grow: according to Korea IT Times, the shanzhai
(counterfeit) electronics companies in Shenzhen believe that bogus tablets will be more profitable than fake cell phones, and are all working on iPad lookalikes. "If you're going to copy, then copy the most expensive and the most popular
," said a representative of the clone maker Teso at a recent trade show in Shenzhen. Teso, which makes MacBook Air clones, says it's going to be making a shanzhai
iPad in about four months that will run Android and retail for ¥1200 (about $175 US). But an unnamed company may have beat them to the punch (or not): a supposed iPad clone was shown on Shanzai.com
. Sporting a 10-inch screen, the Android tablet is a perfect replica of the iPad... at least in the pictures. Also pushing a fake iPad is manufacturer Shenzhen Huayi, whose "jumbo iPhone
" retails for ¥2000 ($290 US). "The success of iPhonish product is a matter of life or death for us," Shenzhen Huayi president told Ming Pao Weekly
The netbook manufacturing giant ASUSTeK is also planning on releasing tablet devices this year. Chairman Jonney Shih told Forbes Asia
that his company is working on two designs: one running Windows CE, and the other running either "Chrome, or the mobile operating system, Android
." Since there isn't a released version of the Chrome OS yet, though, it's possible the device will first ship with Android… or else it won't be available until Chrome OS is, later this year