Asus launches Eee Pad

Netbook PC pioneer Asustek Computer has become the latest technology company to jump on the tablet PC bandwagon on Monday, joining cross-town rival Acer in jostling with Apple in the nascent sector.

The tablet PC, to be called the Eee Pad, will run on Intel or ARM chips, and use Microsoft Windows operating system, Chairman Jonney Shih said ahead of the Computex fair, the world's second-largest PC exhibition.

"The Eee Pad can display Adobe flash for the full web experience, has a USB port and a camera," Shih said. "We looked at how we could best address the needs of users from all walks of life, and I believe this is the product."

Apple has not made its iPad or iPhone compatible with Adobe Systems' popular flash multimedia software, calling it unreliable, a "closed" proprietary system and ill-suited for mobile devices.

The iPad does not have a camera or USB ports.

Asustek did not release pricing details or a potential release date. It has previously showcased products at trade fairs that never made it to sale.

Asustek was also working with Intel and Microsoft to push out its own version of an app store, Shih said, joining other technology companies such as Nokia Corp in trying to beef up their software offerings to compete with Apple.

Shih did not give further details on the format or a launch date for the new app store. Apple has an online offering of more than 200,000 applications while Google's Android has about 38,000.

"It's all about the platform if Asustek really wants to do well in this field," said Edward Yen, an analyst at UBS. "I'm sure the hardware is fine, but the biggest question now is how it's going to attract enough users to create the critical mass needed for an app store."

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