EXCLUSIVE:Toshiba Australia is set to delay the Australian launch of their new Folio Tablets due to uncertainty as to where the tablet market is going in Australia. Also impacting their planned pre Xmas launch is the withdrawal of the Toshiba Folio Tablet from UK stores due to “technical issues” with the device.
Rob Wilkinson, the General Manger of Toshiba’s Information Systems Division in Australia, told ChannelNews six weeks ago that he planned to launch “at least two models” of their 1080p Folio tablets prior to Xmas.
At the weekend Samsung cut production of their new $995 Galaxy Tab due to poor “sell in” sales to retailers around the world. Initially the Company had planned to sell a million units by Xmas 2010.
According to reports out of Europe UK retailers such as Dixon’s, Curry’s and PC World have witnessed a high level of complaints from consumers who have purchased the Toshiba Android based tablet in recent days.
Several of these retailers have now pulled the 10″ Android 2.2 Froyo notebook off their websites and those that have left it on have deliberately boosted the price to 1,613 to deter customers from asking about a sale claims Engadget.
Among complaints made by consumers is the lack of Android Market applications and Flash support despite the use of Android 2.2.
Other issues centre on random wakeups from standby and a lack of responsiveness. Some owners have also commented on a poor-quality display and low build quality with a relatively fragile plastic shell compared to the tighter build of the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the aluminium iPad.
Toshiba has said that Flash should be available later this week, but most workarounds have so far involved rooting and installing custom firmware which customers are not happy to accept on a brand new tablet.
The Toshiba Folio has a 1024 x 600 resolution display , 16GB of internal storage, a 1.3 megapixel webcam, mini-HDMI, USB and SD card-reading ports, and up to seven hours of battery life.
Despite being pumped up as the category that would drive Xmas sales, analysts are starting to have second thoughts about the entire Tablet category with several arguing that it is still early days and that “consumers know that current Tablet models” are set to be replaced with new versions in 2011.
Analysts Rodman & Renshaw, claim that customers are set to cut back spending on new tablets or opt for new Smartphones and laptops, instead of tablets due in part to uncertainty as to “where a tablet fits in their life between a notebook or tablet that they already own and a Smartphone that does a lot of the same functions that the new generation of Tablets deliver.
Rodman & Renshaw claim that Apple, which sold 4.19 million iPads last quarter, may have trouble hitting some analysts’ estimates of 6 million sold in the fourth quarter, analyst Ashok Kumar, predicts Apple may sell as few as 5 million of the touch-screen tablets.
According to Toshiba Australia Public Relations Manager, Selena Adams, Australian management at the Japanese Company are well aware of the problems in Europe with the Folio 100.
“There have been several discussions internally and there is every probability that we will not go ahead with the Folio Tablet range launch prior to Xmas”.
The problems with the Toshiba Folio and the 50% cut back in production by Samsung appear to spell trouble for Android based tablets. While the Samsung Tab as hot excellent reviews and is seen as functioning extremely well the $995 sticker price in Australia makes it very much, a considered purchase at a time when consumers are being extremely cautious as to where they spend their consumer dollar.