Dell launches 10-inch Android tablet in China

The Dell Streak 10 Pro is the PC maker's first 10-inch tablet

Dell launched its newest 10-inch Android tablet exclusively in China on Friday, with the aim of capturing a slice of the country's growing mobile Internet market.

The tablet, called the Streak 10 Pro, has a Chinese interface, and comes pre-installed with popular apps used in the country. Dell also emphasized the device's low price at 2999 yuan (US$466), in contrast to Apple's iPad 2 which costs 3688 yuan in China.

The Streak 10 Pro weighs 727 grams (1.6 pounds) and features a 10.1-inch touchscreen with 1080p video playback. The device uses a 1Ghz Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor that runs the Android 3.1 operating system. A 2-megapixel camera is placed on the tablet's front, and a 5-megapixel camera is placed in the rear. The battery life for the device is up to 12 hours, and the device has 16 GB storage.

China is Dell's second largest market, and the company believes it can grow its presence in the tablet market in the country even as rivals like Apple and other tech companies are also selling their devices in the country.

The Chinese market includes 485 million Internet users, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. Dell also points to the country's vast number of mobile phone users, which now number more than 900 million.

Tablet sales, however, are still small in the country and are expected to reach 4.5 million units for this year, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. In the last quarter, Apple dominated tablet sales, grabbing a 74 percent share.

Despite Apple's popularity, Dell still believes China has plenty of room for the tablet market to grow, said Michael Tatelman, Dell vice president of global mobility sales.

"The iPad is pretty expensive and not everybody can afford an iPad," Tatelman said during an interview with journalists. "That's why we have an aggressive price point. I think there are plenty, plenty, plenty of Chinese people looking for this."

The Streak 10 Pro contains a feature called the Dell Divide, which allows user to switch between a work mode and a home mode with the click of a button icon. The device can go online only through a Wi-Fi connection, but Dell may add 3G support if there is demand for it.

The Streak 10 Pro will currently only be available in China, Tatelman said. The company plans to launch tablets using Windows in the future. Dell has previously released 5-inch and 7-inch Android tablets, which Tatelman said have sold well, although he declined to provide exact sales numbers.

Dell has the second largest PC market share in China at 9.5 percent, according to research firm Gartner. But even with its sizeable presence in the country, the PC maker can't compete with Apple in terms of brand recognition, said Mark Natkin, managing director for Marbridge Consulting.

"(Apple) is seen as an innovative trendy brand name. So it has become a certain kind of status symbol," he said. But China can also be a price sensitive market, which could give the Streak 10 Pro a user base, Natkin said. "If the features are comparable to an iPad and the pricing significantly lower, Dell should do all right," he said.

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