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  (Source: AP)
Is Ballmer eying market penetration with his 7-inch surprise?

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) vaulted itself into that tablet discussion overnight with its hot 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet last holiday season.  That in turn inspired Google Inc. (GOOG) and ASUSTek Computer Inc. (TPE:2357) to pop in a 7-incher of their own -- the Nexus 7.  Even Apple, Inc. (AAPL) looked to jump on the bandwagon, although its iPad Mini offering came up a bit short thanks to a relatively meager screen resolution and hardware set.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), as has often been the case recently, is arriving a bit late to the party. But according to The Verge, CEO Steve Ballmer has big plans to penetrate this growing market, and in the process add a new member to the Xbox brand.

Like Google's Nexus brand, Microsoft offers a 10-inch tablet, and is rumored to be cooking up a 4-inch Surface smartphone up.  That leaves one gaping hole in the lineup.

Microsoft's looks to fill that void with a high-end gaming device that supports current Xbox peripherals, sports a custom ARM processor, and uses high-bandwidth RAM.  The device will run a custom Windows kernel.

A working title for the tablet is "Xbox Surface".


Microsoft is reportedly planning to make a "baby" Surface tablet.

Of course it isn't unthinkable to that Microsoft could abort the fledgling tablet.  After all, that's what it did after conceiving and incubating the Courier concept for months.  It would take Microsoft two years after the death of Courier to finally pop its first first-party tablet hardware out.

The new device may join the upcoming "Xbox 720".  But unlike the Xbox 720, which will likely be built by traditional Chinese third-party mass-manufacturers, the Xbox Surface may be built at the same secret facility as the original Surface.  Microsoft has not disclosed the location of that lower-volume facility, but some rumors suggest that Microsoft built its own small factory in China to keep a tighter grip on the production process.

Source: The Verge





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