New tablet version comes in effort to catch up with US rival's product
BEIJING - The Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group said on Monday that it plans to launch the second version of its tablet computer LePad this year, as part of its efforts to catch up with Apple's latest iPad 2.
Yang Yuanqing, chief executive of Lenovo, said in an interview that Apple's latest upgrade of its tablet computer has set a new level for other computer vendors to catch up to.
But the Chinese company is "fully confident", it will outperform Apple's iPad in China, the world's second- largest computer market after the United States.
He said Lenovo will launch its LePad tablet in China this month and plans to launch the LePad 2 by the end of this year.
"We are confident that the LePad that will be launched this month has its unique advantage over iPad. I hope you can see the launch of our LePad 2 this year, too," said Yang.
On March 2, Apple launched the second version of its popular iPad tablet computer, which includes a major hardware upgrade, and it cut the price of the first version of iPad. That has put greater pressure to catch up on rivals such as Samsung and Motorola, who reportedly considered a redesign of their competing products.
Yang said on Monday that the upcoming LePad has many unique features such as the support for dual 3G technology (EV-DO and WCDMA), Adobe Flash and multiple video formats.
"Many Western Internet companies have difficulties in competing with Chinese rivals, which gives Lenovo a unique advantage in the home market," said Yang. He noted that a closer relationship with Chinese Internet companies such as Baidu and Tencent will make LePad more suitable for Chinese consumers.
According to the research firm IDC, Chinese consumers had purchased at least 800,000 iPads by the end of 2010. Wang Jiping, a manager from the research firm, estimates that about 2.5 million tablet PCs will be sold through official channels in China this year, more than doubling the number in 2010.
Lenovo said earlier that the LePad, an Android-based device that has a detachable screen, will be sold in the international market in June. The price of the product will be at $400 to $1,000 depending on their configurations.
On Monday, Yang also confirmed that Lenovo is working on the world's first eye controlled laptop, but refused to disclose when the company would launch the products.
Tuo Yannan contributed to this story.