One of the biggest mobile phone providers in Japan, NTT DoCoMo, seems to have been following the idea of a new, inexpensive tablet with great interest, as recent reports suggest that they have plans to release such a tablet of their own, and do so in rapid fashion.
The tablet, based on reports from the Nikkei, is set to offer a 10 inch- screen and will be made by the Huawei Technologies Co. out of China, which is a somewhat controversial choice for several different reasons. The tablet itself is expected to be made available on shelves by spring 2013, and can be found at DoCoMo Shop locations throughout Japan, as well as at several other electronics retail outlets.
As for exact specifications on the tablet itself, those seem to be somewhat on the quiet side. Early word says that this particular line of tablets will be Wi-Fi only, not compatible with 3G or 4G LTE connectivity; a somewhat odd step for a company that deals in mobile services. However, the clear point to note here is the price tag, as NTT DoCoMo is reportedly planning to release this at between 10,000 yen (about $110 USD) and 15,000 yen (about $169 USD), which puts it on par with the Amazon Kindle Fire in terms of pricing.
The idea of the low-cost tablet is one that's been growing for some time now. With economic weakness still very much a part of the landscape, it's not surprising to see more firms take an active interest in releasing tablets that are geared to be sensitive to a slimmer wallet. Apple already took that route, at least somewhat, with the launch of the iPad Mini, and we've already seen the kind of success that can be claimed by the Kindle Fire. Google even threw a hat in the metaphorical ring with the Nexus 7.
The tablet's form factor offers a lot of opportunities for users, but often does so at a price that puts it on par with some low-end desktop PCs. Not everyone's interested in getting in for a big investment, but a small investment, now, that's different. That allows formerly uninterested users to sort of try out the tablet form factor on their own, without requiring them to put up a substantial pot of money to do so. NTT DoCoMo isn't a stranger to bringing out new devices, either, having recently announced a variety of new ones coming into play.
With the tablet market getting only progressively fuller as each day passes, the time for companies to stake out their niche is pretty much now or never. How NTT DoCoMo's line proceeds in the market remains to be seen, but if there's a decent tech loadout behind the tablet--at least on par with the Kindle Fire--it should have a pretty brisk response from the market at large.
Edited by Brooke Neuman