Freescale will display 23 tablet computers at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next month, and 11 of them are already on sale ahead of Christmas, according to an executive from the company.
The tablets all use Arm-based processors from Freescale's i.MX family of chips and many of them run Google's Android mobile software, said Glen Burchers, head of marketing at Freescale's consumer chip division.
Among the 11 tablets already on sale around the world, ten are Android devices and one runs Microsoft Windows CE, he said.
Burchers declined to name the devices, but Freescale's website shows one is the 7-inch Android tablet from Hewlett-Packard that comes with a printer, while Universal Microelectronics (UMEC) of Taiwan lists a Freescale chip inside its Android-based MP-202 tablet, as does Mastone Communication and Electrical Development for its Android-based A800 and A801 Lifepads. Other reports say Sharp's new Galapagos e-readers, both the 5.5-inch and 10.8-inch versions, have Freescale chips inside, as does Technicolor's Media Touch 2.0 Android-based tablet.
Many of the tablets were built by system designers in China.
"We focused on the China market and that's both with in-country support and with the price point," said Burchers.
Reference designs are also very important to Chinese makers, he said, and Freescale makes a "very complete reference design" based around Android. Then the company offers a lot of engineering support via the roughly 200 software engineers it employs in China.
"Software is the most difficult part of getting a product to market," he said. Companies often need help to troubleshoot issues with Android or software applications they want on their device, so Freescale offers help in these areas.
Most of the China-made tablets are priced at around US$199 to US$249. As more tablet devices enter the market and manufacturing volume increases, these prices will come down, he said.
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