updated 10:20 pm EST, Wed November 23, 2011
ASUS has significant early Transformer Prime plans
ASUS has relatively ambitious plans for the Transformer Prime, based on rumors from the part chain. Getting extra help in making touchscreens from TPK, it was estimated by Digitimes' contacts to be shipping 350,000 to 400,000 of the quad-core tablet by the end of the year. With ASUS officially predicting 1.8 million tablets shipped all year, the Transformer Prime could represent as much as a fifth of ASUS' whole sales by itself.
The figures would further reinforce ASUS' status as one of the few non-Apple tablet designers to see its results improving over time. Motorola has had to cut Xoom shipments by 75 percent as even price cuts had little effect on demand. Samsung's performance is an unknown. It stopped reporting its Galaxy Tab sales after the start of the year despite its preference for bragging about shipments.
ASUS has counted mostly on price, being one of the few to significantly undercut Apple with similar features on launch, as well as the Transformer line's distinctive if optional notebook dock add-on. Other Android tablets, as well as the BlackBerry PlayBook and the HP TouchPad, cost as much as an iPad while usually either having no clear advantage or setbacks in size and performance.
The Transformer Prime, at $499, will cost as much as an iPad, but it will hand ASUS a rare performance victory months ahead of the expected spring arrival of a quad-core iPad 3 and newer tablets from HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung. It could similarly be one of the first tablets to ship with Android 4.0 and get the extra performance and polish given to the new OS.