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Motorola confirms tablet rumors, hints at early 2011 release

Motorola aims to deliver a tablet computer early next year, a move that will extend its product line to compete with Apple’s iPad.

Speaking at a Deutsche Bank Technology Conference held at San Francisco, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha expressed Motorola’s interest in developing a tablet computer running on Google-backed Android software, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While rumors of this announcement have been in the air since July, this is the first mention of the tablet’s development and launch from Motorola. In terms of exact release date, Jha is proceeding cautiously, “I will only develop a tablet if it is sufficiently compelling. Hopefully, that is early next year.”

It’s expected that Motorola’s tablet would run on Android 3.0. Interestingly, Jha added that the latest version of Android is not ready for use in tablets. This echos comments made earlier by Hugo Barra, Google’s director of mobile products, who told TechRader that Android 2.2, also known as Froyo, is not optimized for tablets, but that future versions will be.

The market for tablets is booming, with Deloitte predicting this to be a $2 billion market by 2012. This could turn out to be a pivotal move for the ailing cellphone manufacturer, which has seen flagging fortunes and is trying to make a turnaround.

Motorola posted a six-fold increase in quarterly net profit in July, and an optimistic outlook for its mobile phone division. The increase in profits has largely been attributed to Motorola’s Answer to the iPhone, Droid X, with Jha mentioning that demand was outstripping supply.

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