The arena floor of the tech marketplace is littered with the casualties of the ongoing tablet price wars, some of whom are merely bloodied while others, like the HP TouchPad, are down for the count. Despite the recent pricing capitulations of HTC and BlackBerry, who both lowered prices on their tablets - the Flyer and the Playbook, respectively - by as much as $200 apiece, some makers are resisting pressure to drop their prices. Asus CEO Jerry Shen dispelled rumors Tuesday that the company was planning to drop prices on the first-generation version of its tablet, the Eee Pad Transformer, currently priced at $400.
Not only is Asus not planning to discount its first-generation Transformer, it intends to remain on course and price the second-generation version for $499 as planned. Some have said this is a bold move, especially given the recent Kindle Fire release, which introduced Amazon's first tablet at the unusually low price point of $199. Yet, Asus remains optimistic, sticking with its 2011 Transformer shipment forecast of 1.5 to 2 million units. Thus far, 1 million of those units have already been sold, with the holiday season and the second generation release yet to go, so Asus seems well-placed to meet its 2011 goals.
The 10-inch Honeycomb tablet has been a solid contender in the tablet wars. With a dual core NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU, the Transformer is a powerful device and features strong multitasking, e-mail, and calendar features, as well as HDMI out for HD video and mirroring. In an almost unique twist, the Transformer markets itself as a modular device that can stand alone for reading, playing games or watching videos or be outfitted with a keyboard for working and word processing.
Additionally, in what appears to have been a smart assessment of the consumer climate, Asus has not tried to create an iPad lookalike. Eschewing the Apple design schema of rounded edges and seamless exterior, the Transformer looks decidedly different, favoring instead a design aesthetic of straight corners and numerous I/O ports. The company has focused not on beating the iPad on its own terms, but rather on creating a distinctly Android tablet, priced competitively but not so low as to seem desperate and geared more towards a selectively 'techie' consumer. The company appears willing to bet that its pricing structure, which has kept it competitive even as other tablets rise and fall around it, will carry it through its hoped-for fourth-quarter earnings.