Microsoft Tablet? Buzz Says iPad Rival Due

on June 15 2012 12:42 PM

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), the world's biggest software company, is expected to make a new consumer push by announcing its own Windows Tablet for shipment next quarter, industry analysts said.

The company has scheduled a press conference Monday in Los Angeles where the tablet is expected to be shown by CEO Steve Ballmer and other executives.

In January, Ballmer said Redmond, Wash., company would unleash its new Windows 8 software on the full array of PCs, phones and tablets at the International Consumer Electronics Show, where he appeared with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) CEO Stephen Elop to endorse the Finnish company's Lumia smartphones that use Windows 8.

Ballmer also stood with executives from China's Lenovo Group (LNVGY), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and others to say Microsoft would support their future PCs and tablets.

During Ballmer's CES appearance, Tami Reller, chief marketing officer for Windows, said her staff was working to bring Windows applications to all products based on chips from ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH) of the UK, which is the principal supplier to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), the developer of the iPad.

Apple didn't bind ARM Holdings to an exclusive supply arrangement in 2007, when its chips first empowered the iPhone, or in 2010, when it shipped the first iPad.

Industry analysts and PC blogs suggested the Microsoft tablet might also resemble some the Kindle Fire from Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), the No. 1 e-retailer, which has sold more than 5 million units since November.

Microsoft in April invested $300 million in Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS), the developer of the Nook, a rival of the Kindle and Kindle Fire, as well as the iPad in the media market.

Microsoft already has extensive media relationships with the likes of News Corp. (NYSE: NWS), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) for programming for its popular Xbox, so they could be extended to the tablet sector.

Microsoft executives also showed how Windows 8 would work on tablets at the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona, Spain, in February, without saying the company would have its own tablet.

Tablets are a growing market with sales expected to jump 85 percent this year to 127 million, market researcher IHS iSuppli predicted last month. Apple is expected to take a 61 percent share this year, with tablets based on the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android OS with 38.4 percent.

Shares of Microsoft rose 68 cents to close at $30.02 Friday, while Apple shares rose $2.60 cents to $574.13. U.S. shares of ARM rose 30 cents to $23.22.