updated 09:35 am EDT, Tue July 20, 2010
Sharp steps in against iPad with Verizon deal
Sharp leapt into the tablet market in earnest today by revealing plans to launch two new devices that will reach US soil. Although pitched as e-readers, the 5.5-inch and 10.8-inch slates use LCD touchscreens and will play media and access the Internet. Both will also use a new version of the Japan-favorite XMDF (ever-eXtending Mobile Document Format) that adds audio and video support as well as dynamic layouts to work on different formats, including screens as large as TVs.
For the American launch, Sharp plans to team up with Verizon and will likely give either tablet built-in 3G. Several Japanese publishers have lined up for content locally, but Sharp hasn't said what deals it has abroad.
Both sizes of the devices should be available before the end of the year; it's unclear if the American version will be ready at the same time, but a recent high-profile leak suggested Verizon would have a 10-inch tablet in the fall.
The launch gives Sharp a sudden and relatively unexpected entry into the same competitive space as the iPad, which has proven very successful in Japan despite the country's historical resistance towards foreign technology. Sharp has been rare among Japanese firms in expanding beyond traditional computers and phones, however, recently launching the Android-based IS01 MID where local rivals are either still producing conventional handsets or Windows-based hardware. Verizon also gets a more aggressive start on tablets as Sharp represents the first major firm to supply the hardware; previous plans have been limited to young startups like ICD that have had to push back their efforts. [via Impress]