Friday, March 19, 2010

Here comes your $99 eBook reader/tablet

Earlier this week, Marvell displayed engineering prototypes of "Moby", a tablet powered by its Armada processor that will run either Android or Windows Mobile. Moby will come will built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS, the ability to encode and decode 1080p HD video in real time and 3D graphics support. The tablet will support Flash, and Marvell claims that end-user devices based on its reference design will be able to be sold for $99. As Technologizer pointed out, the tablets shown at this week's Future of Publishing Summit were rough engineering prototypes, so Marvell's claim that production versions ready for customer delivery will be ready by the end of the year is probably correct.

One interesting aspect is that Marvell is targeting the education eBook market with Moby; the company's press release is full of references to the educational market, and Marvell even plans to give Mobys away to every student at an at-risk school once the device goes into production. There have been companies targeting the low end of the eBook reader market, but $99 is an awfully low price point to beat. The advantages of full color, video and Flash will outweigh any disadvantages of using an LCD display instead of e-Ink for educational applications.

In any event, the tablet market is getting very crowded, very quickly, and Marvell is positioning itself to be one of the arms merchants.

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