Is This the iPad Killer?

A new Android tablet is getting ready to storm the market. Could this one put an end to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad hegemony?

No, I'm not talking about the Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) Kindle Fire. That's old news already in this breakneck race to dethrone the tablet king. In fact, chances are that you've never heard of this brand.

Sold in China under the Ainol Electronics brand, this tablet will hit America "within the next several months" under equally unheralded brand names like Leader International and OMG Electronics. And at less than $100, this model undercuts iPads, Nooks, and Kindles like a chop block on Monday night.

Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) senior vice president of mobile operations, Andy Rubin, seems excited: "Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android's openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world," he says.

However, this isn't quite the slam dunk it might look like on paper.

For one thing, this thing isn't exactly an iPad replacement -- to hit that ultra-low price point, Ainol had to settle for a smaller 7-inch screen. LCD panels are often the most expensive parts of smartphones and tablets today. It's an easy spot to conserve costs.

For another, it's not built around another ARM (Nasdaq: ARMH  ) processor, manufactured by familiar names such as Samsung or NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) . Instead, it's pretty much the first consumer-level Android gadget designed for MIPS (Nasdaq: MIPS  ) processors, in this case stamped out by Chinese semiconductor firm Ingenic Semiconductor.

The performance of such chips is unproven and unknown. Rubin calls it "high-performance," but then he's supposed to evangelize Android products wherever they appear.

If MIPS chips turn out to be truly competitive with the usual ARM solutions, then we might have a winner here. In that case, you should see an onslaught of MIPS-powered smartphones and tablets following this trailblazer. MIPS sure would love that. But if it's a dog, or sucks up battery juice like a thirsty camel, it's just another unsellable doorstop. Animals don't mix with mobile gadgetry.

Only time will tell where these chips may fall. In the meantime, there are plenty of slam-dunk winners in the mobile computing race. You'll find three surprising examples in this special report, modestly known as "3 Hidden Winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution." Just click here to learn more -- it's totally free for Fools.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Google but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of NVIDIA, Google, Amazon.com, and Apple. We have also recommended writing puts in NVIDIA and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2011, at 3:35 AM, kariku wrote:

    No Android device will ever be an iPad killer, just like Linux never killed Windows.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2011, at 5:27 AM, H3D wrote:

    Google search...

    "anders bylund" "ipad killer"

    ... for the long list of Anders' previous iPad killers.

    We will be starting a new series in the spring...

    "Anders Bylund's iPad Killers. Where are they now?"

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2011, at 7:44 AM, daillengineer wrote:

    Anders didn't say it was an iPad killer. That's just a title to get you to read his article about whatever it is he's writing. In the article he says "...this isn't exactly an iPad replacement". Please read and comprehend before posting ignorant responses.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2011, at 8:35 AM, AdamCatalyst wrote:

    This sounds to me like the "netbooks" of tablet computers. I have little faith in low margin, low quality electronics. There will always be a market for them, but not one where a lot of money can be made. Customers motivated by price are the worst customers to have.

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2011, at 10:27 AM, H3D wrote:

    @daillender

    If Anders allows editors to change the message of his work and publish the work under his name, and he accepts the money, then he must take responsibility for the work as published.

    I am referring to the Anders Bylund that the work is attributed to. The Anders Bylund that writes under so many titles about iPad killers.

    Not some other minion called Anders Bylund that wrote a few lines of it, but doesn't take responsibility for the whole.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2011, at 9:40 PM, TMFZahrim wrote:

    Hey, @H3D,

    Titles to change sometimes, but I came up with this one. Note how it's a question, which I then explore. The answer is "probably not," in case you didn't read the article and need a one-line conclusion here. Thanks for clicking in, if not actually reading.

    Anders

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2011, at 1:06 PM, billhiroshi wrote:

    Agreed with Ander comment on performance. I got both arm and mips tablet from the same company.

    Surprise, the price difference is only $15 but MIPS platform doesn't perform any better.

    http://www.ainol.com/plugin.php?identifier=ainol&module=...

    Video doesn't decode at full 30 fps and the touch screen response has serious delay. Boot up time very long. Good thing about this tablet is that it can support multiple video format and and it can play back 3 movies with the battery.

    The worst part is that there is a lot of app doesn't run from the top 20 in google market. Other arm tablet doesn't has this problem.

    Also, from MIPS website

    http://developer.mips.com/android-ics/

    The ICS doesn't seem to fully functional. Andy Rubin and MIPS marketing claim this is high performance tablet while it's not. This serious credibility problem.

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