A rumor emerged last week that said Acer was preparing a $99 Android tablet. That rumor is looking to be truth as more reports are coming in on the device, dubbed the Iconia B1, and one report says that the budget tablet may never make it to the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal spoke to a person "with direct knowledge of the project" to score some details on the new tablet. First up, the price will indeed be $99 and the price will reflect that. The device will have a resolution of 1024x600 and a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor. In fact, the tablet is reported to have specs rivaling that of first generation Kindle Fire devices. It's expected to be sold in emerging markets, like China, where Apple's iPad might be too expensive for most consumers.
So where does that leave the U.S.? It's unknown if Acer will ever release the device here, but it has been submitted to the FCC for certification. It shows that Acer is at least considering a release in the states where low cost tablets are beginning to take some market share away from Apple's premium iPad tablets. The WSJ's source pointed to this directly saying that Google's Nexus 10, which is priced at $499, has changed what's considered competitive pricing in the tablet market.
It's also being reported that Acer plans on releasing a lower priced version of its Intel-based Windows 8 tablets next year as well. A different source told the WSJ that its current devices are too pricey, and a lower priced alternative would be very attractive for those wanting to get into Windows 8.
Acer's tablet, if it launches in the U.S., could beat a rumored $99 Asus tablet to market. There have been rumors for quite some time that Google was building a $99 Nexus 7 with Asus, but nothing has come out of that except for some random hearsay. Directly speaking to the WSJ, Asustek flat out denied that the company is building a $99 tablet, but such a response is to be expected until an official announcement is made.
As for the ultimate fate of Iconia B1, it will probably come to the U.S. if Google and Asus announce a $99 tablet. If not, there's no reason to release such a cheap tablet in the U.S. beyond just having a cheap tablet. Asus' Nexus 7 is selling decently well at its $199 price point and Asus needs to focus on competing with that. A $99 tablet with half the power of the Nexus 7 wouldn't make a dent in Google's dominion over the Android tablet market.