HTC, the maker of several popular Android smartphones, plans to launch three Android-powered tablets, with the first of the lot arriving as early as March, according to a DigiTimes report. The first tablet from the Taiwan-based manufacturer would be called the Flyer and won’t run the tablet-optimized Android 3.0 Honeycomb, the report says, but rather Android 2.3 until Google releases the new OS later this year.
Sources from within HTC’s supply chain told DigiTimes that HTC would not depart from the current design cues found in its latest smartphones and that the Flyer will look like a 7-inch HTC Desire smartphone. Strangely enough, they also say the HTC Flyer will only run the non-tablet optimized Android 2.3 when launched in March, which could mean that Google has not finished work on the tablet-oriented Android 3.0.
HTC aims to be the first to put out an Android tablet with a carrier this year, say the suppliers, ahead of Motorola’s Xoom and RIM’s PlayBook (late March/early April), so this could explain why the first tablet will ship with a non-tablet optimized OS. This could also explain why the Flyer is said to have just a 7-inch display, and not a larger one, like the iPad and the Motorola Xoom. Samsung was the first to put out the Galaxy Tab Android tablet last year and managed to get a 1 million sales head start at last count. Apple’s tablet, launched in April 2010, sold 14 million units through December.
The 7-inch HTC Flyer will be the first in a set of three tablets HTC will launch this year, but the other two unnamed tablets would only arrive in June, reports DigiTimes, with the added extra of Android 3.0 on-board (which means no waiting around for manufacturers and carriers to deliver software updates). By then Motorola and RIM would have launched their new tablets, and so would have Apple, with the improved iPad 2 some time in April.
But until March, when HTC Flyer could hit the US shores , we should be able to find out more details about the tablet in February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, as Endgadget and TechRadar suggest.