Earlier today Acer announced the Iconia A500, its first entry into the rapidly-expanding tablet market, and the company seems to be moving aggressively on the price.

Specifications for the device are almost identical to competing tablets: 10.1-inch screen, dual cameras, Android based operating system. But the $459 price tag is lower than any other tablet this far.

The post-announcement narratives for non-iPad tablets have followed similar scripts. There is the initial surprise, followed by a spec analysis and the inevitable realization that the tablet in question is significantly more expensive than Apple's iPad. That was the story for the Xoom, which debuted at $799, and almost immediately written off as dead on arrival. Samsung's first entry into the tablet market, the 7.1-inch Galaxy Tab, was $599 when it was rolled out.

Later tablet announcements were slightly more promising. RIM gave the 16 GB Playbook tablet a competitive $499 price point, matching the cheapest version if the iPad. Samsung followed a similar pattern, announcing that its Galaxy Tab 10.1 would launch at a competitive $499. But with the Iconia A500, Acer has gone further, beating competitors' sticker price.

Price may be the only way for tablet makers to differentiate themselves from each other -- an important point if any wants to make a dent in Apple's market share. By most significant metrics, the offerings from Motorola, Samsung, HP, and now Acer are almost entirely interchangeable. This is why Acer, which is relatively late to the tablet game, had to make its tablet stand out on price. The Iconia A500 is the cheapest Android tablet on the market. This, in the end, may make it more persuasive option to consumers.