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LG Elec to launch 8.9-inch tablet early 2011

LG Electronics, the world's No.3 handset vendor, plans to launch an 8.9-inch tablet device based on an upcoming version of Google's Android operating system, a source close to the matter said on Thursday.

The device, to run on Google's upcoming "Honeycomb" operating system tailored to tablet PCs, will be rolled out in South Korea and overseas early next year, the source said, who asked not to be identified as the new Google system has not been announced yet.

With the rollout, LG seeks to jump into the fast-growing tablet PC market that is becoming increasingly crowded with the likes of Samsung Electronics, Research In Motion, Hewlett-Packard and Dell

Handset vendors and PC makers are rushing into the new category of devices, which Apple jump-started this year with its hot-selling iPad.

Apple controlled 95 percent of the emerging market for tablet computers last quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

The upcoming LG device will be the first tablet PC for the company, after it dropped a plan to introduce tablets based on the Android 2.2 operating system, also known as "Froyo," citing the need for "the most reliable and suitable Android version," for tablets.

Samsung, however, launched Galaxy Tab, powered by Android 2.2 version, in South Korea on Thursday after unveiling the 7-inch model in Europe and other Asian countries earlier.

"There's a controversy whether Froyo is a suitable system for tablet devices, but consumers will make the final call on the issue after using Galaxy Tab," JK Shin, head of Samsung's mobile division, told reporters on Thursday.

The delay by LG could deal a further blow to the South Korean electronics firm, which is grappling to turn around its loss-making mobile unit due to a lack of competitive smartphone models to compete with Apple's iPhone, RIM's BlackBerry and Samsung's Galaxy S.

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