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Apple a no-show but iPad looms over CES

Chinese website selling iPad2 cases, ordered to remove ads
Beijing (AFP) Jan 4, 2011 - Protective cases for the second generation iPad are being sold on Chinese e-commerce website Alibaba -- even before Apple has launched the new device -- and suggest the next model will have a camera. Alibaba spokesman John Spelich told AFP on Tuesday the company had been asked to remove the listings, which showed brightly coloured silicon cases with a small hole in the back on sale for less than three dollars each. "Shortly after we were made aware, through blog reports, of the presence of these listings, we received a legitimate take down request and we have been doing so since last week," Spelich said, without naming the complainant. An AFP search for iPad2 cases found seven listings on Alibaba -- a trading platform for small businesses -- mostly from suppliers based in southern China who were accepting orders for a minimum 200-500 units.

Apple's iPad touchscreen tablet computer allows users to watch video, listen to music, play games, surf the Web and read electronic books, but the next model is also expected to feature a camera and USB port. The company is predicted to launch iPad2 this year after selling more than eight million of the original devices between April, when it went on sale in the United States, and the end of September, Apple's last reporting period. In China -- the world's biggest Internet market with 450 million users, according to the last official count, and the major producer of Apple products -- hundreds queued for the first official iPads when they were launched in the country in September.

Goldman Sachs predicts iPad sales could top 37.2 million units in 2011 and technology research firm Gartner forecasts total tablet computer sales of 55 million units this year. Some observers had expected Apple to unveil iPad2 at the US International Consumer Electronics Show, which starts Thursday. But the California-based company is shunning the massive electronics trade show, which attracts tens of thousands of buyers and sellers from around the world to Las Vegas. Apple is notoriously secretive about new products but it's security system has been breached in the past. A prototype of Apple's 4th generation iPhone turned up in Vietnam in May, a month before the gadget's global launch.
by Staff Writers
Las Vegas (AFP) Jan 4, 2011
The annual Consumer Electronics Show kicks off here on Thursday but the hottest device around, and the trailblazing company that makes it, won't be on the sprawling show floor.

Apple, whose iPad touchscreen tablet computer was the hit new gadget of last year, is once again shunning the electronics extravaganza that attracts tens of thousands of buyers and sellers from around the world to the Las Vegas strip.

Apple may be a no-show but the Cupertino, California-based company behind the iPod, iPhone and iPad and its iconic co-founder Steve Jobs will loom large over the four-day event at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

"Right now, in the consumer electronics space, Apple is the shining star that everyone and their brother are chasing," said Silicon Valley technology analyst Rob Enderle.

And what rival firms have in their sights is the iPad, which sold more than eight million units between April, when it landed in US stores, and the end of September, Apple's last reporting period.

Goldman Sachs predicts iPad sales could top 37.2 million units in 2011 and technology research firm Gartner forecasts total tablet computer sales of 55 million units this year.

"There's a tremendous buzz about tablets," said Tara Dunion of CES organizer the Consumer Electronics Association.

"I've seen at least 40 new tablets announced and we're estimating there could be up to 80 new tablets launched at CES," Dunion said.

"I don't think you'll be able to walk 10 feet on the show floor without seeing some kind of a tablet device," said analyst Stephen Baker of the NPD Group.

South Korea's Samsung and US computer giants Hewlett-Packard and Dell are among the technology titans which have already come out with tablet devices.

Samsung launched its Galaxy Tab, which is powered by Google's Android software, in November and has reported sales of over one million units.

Smaller than the iPad, the Galaxy Tab features a seven-inch (18-centimeter) touchscreen compared with the iPad's 9.7-inch (24.6-cm) display.

The Galaxy Tab has front- and rear-facing cameras for video chat -- a feature absent from the first generation of the iPad -- and can also play Adobe's Flash video software, which is banned from the Apple device.

HP unveiled its HP Slate 500, which runs Microsoft's Windows 7 computer operating system and is aimed more at professionals than consumers, in October and Dell began selling its tablet computer, the Streak, in June.

Canada's Research In Motion, maker of the Blackberry, is also planning its own touchscreen tablet computer this year, the PlayBook, aiming it at business users like HP.

At last year's CES, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer showed off Windows-powered tablet prototypes but the US software giant has been slow to get the products to market.

Ballmer is scheduled to give a keynote speech Wednesday on the eve of the CES opening and NPD Group's Baker said he expects the Microsoft chief to unveil his latest plans for Windows-based tablets.

Toshiba and Motorola are among the other household names which are expected to unveil tablet computers at CES and there will be scores of others -- most of which are unlikely to keep Apple's Jobs up at night.

"We are going to be up to our armpits in crappy tablets, and I do mean crappy," said Enderle.

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