Vizio, known for its bargain-priced LCD televisions, will announce an inexpensive Android smartphone and tablet on Monday, the company told the Wall Street Journal. The announcement cements Android’s position as the low-cost platform that will bring smart mobile devices to the masses. That’s great news for consumers who otherwise couldn’t afford a smartphone or tablet, but not necessarily so great for current Android partners.
Vizio–a small, privately held company based in Irvine, California–exploded into the TV market in 2005 by offering inexpensive LCD sets through retail outlets like Wal-Mart. It now ships more LCD TVs in the U.S. than any other company, although Samsung ships more flat-panel TVs total.
Vizio is pursuing the same strategy of bargain pricing and mass retail distribution for its upcoming Via Phone and Via Tablet, appealing to the “typical Wal-Mart shopper,” as the company’s chief technology officer told the Wall Street Journal. The phone will also be distributed by a cellular carrier–Vizio hasn’t said which one–but the tablet won’t have a cellular connection, only Wi-Fi. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but bet that it will be a few bucks lower than the lowest-priced Android competitors on the market. Both devices will go on sale this summer.
Vizio’s move won’t have much effect on Apple, which already competing with Android by trying to offer a premium experience at a reasonable price. But other device makers who placed early big bets on Android, including Samsung, HTC, and Motorola, will begin to feel the pressure from fast followers this year.