There’s a market for $500 tablets, and then there’s a much, much larger market for $100 tablets, and Acer seems to be serious about dominating that large market with its upcoming Iconia B1 Android tablet that will only cost $99. Since emerging markets care a lot more about a $99 tablet than people in developed countries would, Acer is going to release this tablet only in these markets.
That seems like a sound strategy to me, especially if they aren’t making a lot of profit on each unit, so the less competition, the better. Of course there are tablets that sell for even less than $100, but those either have lower resolution, lower specs, or lower build quality. I believe Acer is trying to build a quite decent tablet for $99 here.
The 1024×600 resolution on 7″ means that the pixel density is actually slightly higher than that of the iPad Mini (170 vs 162). Of course, the quality of the screen may not be that of the highest end IPS panel, but it should be decent enough for people who can barely even afford these $99 tablets.
The specs include a dual core 1.2 Ghz processor. It would make perfect sense for them to use the much cheaper and more energy efficient Cortex A7, especially if they intend to use a smaller battery to cut costs, but it’s also very possible they went with an older dual core Cortex A9 chip. Cortex A9 would be more powerful, but for sub-$200 devices it makes a lot more sense to go with dual core or quad core Cortex A7 for both price and energy efficiency considerations.
The RAM is a little low, with only 512 MB to use, but this is expected for a sub-$100 device. I think we’ll only get to see 1 GB of RAM at this price range towards the end of 2013. The tablet is going to run Jelly Bean 4.1.2, so it should still work very well as far as user experience goes.
The reason why Acer decided to do this seems to be because of the $399 Nexus 10, which made them to think differently about what it means to be competitive. They probably were nowhere close to building a $400 tablet with a 2560×1600 high-quality screen and a Cortex A15 chip, so instead they decided to build more of what they already know, but with a much lower price point.
Decently built $99 Android tablets should launch the Android tablet market share way past the iPad market share, going into 2013. But more importantly, it will enable people who perhaps could never be able to own a $500 iPad or a Windows PC, to get an Android tablet for only $99, which enforces once again the idea that Android is the operating system of the next decade.