Tesco will add a new gadget to its family of smart devices

Tesco to launch own smartphone

Supermarket giant Tesco will launch its own smartphone this year, as well as a new version of the Hudl tablet.

Chief executive Philip Clarke told the BBC that the success of the company's Hudl tablet and the growth of digital consumption had led the retailer to add to its technology line with a Hudl smartphone and Hudl 2 tablet device.

"The opportunity in multi-channel retailing, in online retailing, is what led us to develop the Hudl tablet, and we've now sold 550,000 I think. Hudl 2 is coming out in September and there's going to be a Hudl phone by the end of the year."

Clarke said the new devices would come with all of Tesco's digital services built-in, and that because of the growth of apps and online shopping this was a natural step for the company.

"All (the devices are) going to come loaded with the Tesco services - Blinkbox, the trilogy of music, movies and books that's just launched, grocery home shopping, Tesco Direct, F&F Clothing and our bank account launches in June or July, and that'll be on the smartphone too."

A Tesco spokesman said the device would run on the Android operating system, and be benchmarked against other high-end smartphones on the market, but the company could not yet confirm a price or list of the device's specifications.

The Hudl tablet came on to the market at £119 when it launched last year, priced well below the likes of the Apple iPad, but running lower specifications, instead looking to compete with devices like the Amazon Kindle HD tablet, and other mid-level tablet computers. A new version of the device has been expected for some time.

A host of high street retailers have launched their own tablet devices over the last year, looking to cash in on the smartphone and mobile device revolution. Retailer Aldi announced earlier this year that it was relaunching its LifeTab, which originally sold out in less than 24 hours when it went on sale for £80 in December last year. Argos also moved into the market with the MyTablet device.

A report by research firm eMarketer in October found that tablets had now reached a third of the UK population, and more than 20 million of Britons use them on a regular basis.

Because of the move into the market by retailers like Tesco, eMarketer found that more than half the population would be using a tablet by 2017.

In a comment to E&T, Richard Acreman, CEO of technology services company WM360, said, "Many businesses these days operate in fast-paced environments with employees working remotely and as such tend to rely on a BYOD system offering dubious security, efficiency and reliability. This move by both Tesco and Amazon to embed friendly products and services within their own user devices can be seen as a move to externalise the benefits of an intranet, giving users the equivalent of a corporate intranet, but on a personal device.

"It is another move away from traditional desktops as companies search for the desirable ‘captured audience’ that customised brand devices can deliver."


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