Amidst heated competition in both pricing and specs from Amazon’s announcement of its dual-core $200 Kindle Fire touchscreen tablet that runs a heavily skinned version of the Android operating system, Asus, which had gained fame for the success of its Transformer tablet, remains committed to the Transformer 2. The Transformer successor will up the ante with beefier specs, rumored to be a quad-core processor, presumably from NVIDIA codenamed Kal-el.
According to the Transformer-maker, the company has no plans to slash the price of the current dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 Transformer 1 model, which starts at a $400 MSRP though you may find discounts at select retailers. The Transformer 2, with better and improved processing power, will cost extra and that model will start at $500. The Transformer 2 is said to be launching on schedule.
According to Asus CEO Jerry Shen, Android Ice Cream Sandwich will help the Transformer 2 win ground against Apple’s market-leading iPad:
Shen pointed out that the Android tablet PCs have been seeing improvements and the upcoming Android 4.0, which will be released at the end of 2011, should be able to satisfy market’s demand and help Android tablet PC to compete against Apple’s iPad on the same ground.
Though the Kindle Fire is putting downward pressure on tablet pricing, with Apple’s 10-inch iPad setting the baseline $500 price, Asus sees the 10-inch form factor to dominate slate sales and the 7-inch Kindle Fire will only account for about 20-30% of the market. Most recently, the Kindle Fire has placed pressure on RIM to lower the price of the PlayBook and Best Buy discounting the HTC Flyer tablet by as much as $200.
While the original Asus Eee Pad Transformer was launched with more budget-friendly prices, especially when compared to the then higher pricing on the Motorola Xoom tablet, it appears that Asus does not want to continue the downward spiral with pricing like what happened with netbooks as the successor will cost $100 more than the original tablet.