Microsoft in push to take on Apple with iPad mini rival
Microsoft is set to launch a rival to the iPad mini today. The company, which has recently begun manufacturing its own tablets, is expected to unveil an eight-inch tablet that competes with the iPad mini on price and specifications.
The new tablet is expected to run a basic version of Microsoft's touchscreen Windows 8 operating system that will only be able to use software from Microsoft's app store.
Microsoft is also expected to announce other new computers at the event, including an updated version of its Surface Pro tablet-laptop hybrid. The Surface Pro 3 is expected to incorporate faster processors from Intel and more memory. The updated model could also come with a slightly bigger screen than the current 11-inch model.
Microsoft has struggled to match rivals Apple and Samsung in the battle for phone and tablet market share. Last autumn, it revealed that it had booked almost €650m in losses on its Surface tablet line following weak sales.
Microsoft is also facing an uphill battle in establishing its Windows Phone operating system as a mainstream alternative to Apple iPhones and Android smartphones. While the platform, which is used largely on Nokia smartphones, has performed well in a handful of European countries, it retains just 3pc market share globally and just 1pc in the US market according to figures from industry analyst firm Canalys. Apple retains 16pc of the global phone market while Android has 81pc of the market.
While the smartphone market continues to grow, the growth of tablet sales has slowed in recent months, with Apple revealing a 15pc fall in iPad sales in its last quarterly earnings statement. Amazon has also disclosed that sales of its Kindle tablet have fallen.
Analysts say that phones bearing larger screens are eating into the tablet market. Samsung's recently launched Galaxy S5 phone has a 5.1-inch screen, while HTC's One M8 and Sony's Xperia Z2 have five-inch displays. Apple is expected to launch a 4.7-inch iPhone this summer, with an even larger iPhone due before Christmas.
Despite this slowing down of tablet growth, several computer manufacturers have launched new tablets in recent weeks. Samsung rival LG announced three new tablet models while Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi revealed an eight-inch tablet that it says will launch in American and European markets later this year or next year.
Xiaomi is one of the fastest-growing mobile device manufacturers. Its smartphones outsell iPhones in China.