Phil Geldard of Archos shows and talks about the release of the Archos Gamepad on the US market, scheduled to happen in February 2013 at the price of $169 MSRP. Archos has been trying to ramp up mass manufacturing to be able to deliver to supply the huge demand worldwide that there is for this really cool product. I know I’ll be playing all my favorite N64 games on this device http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08ofzaL8750 in the months to come, as well as any really cool new Android games that I may find.
The Nintendo games are the best in the world. That is why I’m most excited about playing those on the Archos Gamepad and it’s awesome that most games seem smooth. Although I think the N64 game emulation on Android is still a work in progress. Here I show a bit of Super Mario 64, Wave Race, Wipeout 64, Diddy Kong Racing and also showing that Archos’s button mapping works fine for Angry Birds.
Playing videogames is the top activity that consumers do on tablets. So Archos is releasing this awesome thin, light and very well prices $149 Archos Gamepad. It’s got a 1024×600 capacitive touch screen but more importantly for gaming, it’s got game controller buttons on each side of the screen. This device runs on the Rockchip RK3066 dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with the quad-core Mali-400MP4 GPU. Thus gameplay support is quite decent, especially considering the $149 retail price of this device. Archos software engineers implement a very innovative mapping software layer solution on top of Android, to map the hardware controls to touch-screen input. Thus a large portion of existing touch-screen optimized games are thus very well playable like this. As a transition until all Android games become fully optimized for normal gamepad input. Not only as portable Android gameplayers come with buttons, but for the Android home consoles, HDMI sticks, Set-top-boxes, Google TV and more, all suggesting that Android is about to become by far the biggest video games platform in the world. In this video, I showcase one N64 emulator that I could find on the Google Play Store, though N64 and Dreamcast emulation is still a work in progress, as many more consumers start getting access to these types of Android gaming devices, hopefully it’ll encourage more game developers to improve emulators and new games support on the platform. There isn’t specifically need for game developers to specifically target the RK3066 and this device, since as I understand a lot of the hardware acceleration happens through standards based Open GL ES 2.0, but for sure as more gamers and developers start using these devices, the optimization level of gaming can reach perfection, or at least a very satisfactory and impressive level at that price.
Archos is launching two more sizes for their Generation 10 Android Tablet series, including the $199 Archos 80 XS and the $299 Archos 97 XS, each with the optional $49 Archos Coverboard Keyboard Dock. I’ve been using my Archos 101 XS every day during these past 45 days, replacing my broken $1000 Intel Ultrabook for all of my on-the-go productivity and 10.1″ Tablet usage. It’s much thinner and lighter than an Intel laptop, the thin and light keyboard dock ads productivity to the already very awesome OMAP4470 tablet. The same priced $299 Archos 97 XS runs on the same OMAP4470 and the $199 Archos 80 XS runs on the Rockchip RK3066 processor to achieve thus a Nexus7-like price point with its own awesome thin and light magnetic Keyboard dock.
For the confirmation if 8GB 1Ghz versions have 512MB RAM and 16GB and 250GB 1.5Ghz versions have 1GB RAM, you have to wait another few days or weeks for Archos to give us an official confirmation on the RAM capacity. As far as I understand, they may still be testing out the different types of RAM and capacities based on the latest Honeycomb 3.2 software most optimized for the high memory bandwidth of the OMAP4460 processor, to determine which type and capacity of RAM to use. Though these 1.5Ghz tablets are probably right now coming out of those factories so Archos should be able to confirm this at any moment now. Let’s try again tomorrow and the day after, when the engineers are not on their week-end break and can give us an answer.
These cool new Archos tablets start at 249€ for the 8″ 8GB 1Ghz, 299€ for the 10.1″ 8GB 1Ghz device. Consider US prices do not include VAT so similar $249 to $299 starting price can perhaps be expected in the US, though the $ is weak at the moment so US prices might start at something closer to $299 and $349 (to be confirmed officially tomorrow). You get 1.5Ghz processor speed when you choose the 16GB or 250GB versions that are slightly more expensive. Also check back for my further videos tomorrow on the Archos G9 series, I will ask them about the performance and more.
Archos surely seems to dominate in terms of nearly every store in Hong Kong that sells tablets have a range of Archos Gen8 tablets for sale right there at prime shelf space, while very few have the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab for sale. It seems consumers and gadget retailers in Hong Kong Electronics Market regard Archos as great value, even as there might be cheaper “Archos Home Tablet” or “Arnova” grade tablets also being sold there, consumers who want high-end experience for low to mid-range pricing, still overwhelmingly choose the Archos tablets.
ABI Research recently speculated that Archos as being the third largest tablet maker worldwide in 2010. If Apple still has 85% in Q1 2011 and with 4.69 million iPads sold, that means Archos would have had to only sell 110 thousand tablets worldwide between January-March 2011 to remain at that 2% 2010 ABI Research speculative worldwide tablet market share.
My theory, Archos probably has more than 6% global tablet market share today
Another thing to consider, Archos can only have as much marketshare as it can afford to build for.
If you consider Apple may have about 80% tablet market share in Q1 2011, and Archos let’s say 8% in that same period, here are some of the differences between those two companies:
Archos has less than 150 employees mostly based in France, $56.7 Million Q1 2011 revenues, Market Capitalisation at $215,34 Million, probably has less than $20 Million in the bank to use for production enhancements, sales channels increase, marketing, manufacturing capacity increase, and R&D investments.
Apple has 49,400 employees (329x more than Archos) mostly based in the USA, $24.6 Billion Q1 2011 revenues (433x more than Archos), Market Capitalisation at $223,77 Billion (1039x more than Archos), probably has over $40 Billion in the bank to use for production enhancements (2000x more than Archos), sales channels increase, marketing, manufacturing capacity increase, and R&D investments.
This is why Archos has started today issuing a capital increase of upwards $43 Million, a call to their investors to invest more money in new Archos stock. If investors answer the call (by May 4th), Archos may triple their bank account size, thus having more money to spend on increasing production capacity, smoothing sales channels, optimizing software/hardware R&D efficiency, and may gear up for trying to reach upwards 24% global tablet marketshare by the end of the year.
Considering the many new entrants to the tablet market, including major ones like Asus, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, etc, it might be hard for a small company like Archos to reach 24% marketshare in such a rapidly growing market. But who knows, in my opinion, it’s mostly a matter of cash, investments and being able to provide the best value. While Archos may triple their sales having 3x more cash in the bank for tripling production capacity (considering they can easily sell everything that they make), that does not mean they would triple their marketshare if the tablet market at the same time more than doubles in size. They might go from 8% to 12%, something like that. And if the tablet market triples in size they could remain at 8% in a 3x larger market.
Here’s the Arnova 10 with capacitive touch screen and the RK2918 ARM Cortex-A8 processor. At around $229 MSRP it could possibly become one of the best value 10.1″ ARM Cortex-A8 capacitive tablets on the market. It’s thin, uses most of the nice design features of the Archos 101 Internet Tablet released in October 2010, but removes the kick-stand (to lower cost), replaces some of the metallic design features with plastics (to lower cost), removes HDMI output (I need to let them confirm this, perhaps that was just removed on the prototype). This device uses the new 1.2Ghz Rockchip processor, with 1080p video codecs support (possibly all codecs at up to over 30mbitps high profile playback), new better graphics performance, but most importantly, this awesome 10.1″ tablet may be sold around $229/229€ at retail MSRP (with capacitive and rk2918), and there is a good chance Rockchip should be getting access to the Honeycomb source code soon (comon Google, give it to them sooner rather than later! (I have no idea if Rockchip has Honeycomb yet or not, I will try to interview Rockchip again about Honeycomb at China Sourcing Fair tomorrow)).
Archos Technology (Shenzhen) Co Ltd has a big booth in the middle of the Shenzhen Electronics Fair, there is a lot of interest for Archos and Arnova products in the Chinese market and developing countries. They have of course invited me to their Shenzhen offices tomorrow where I will try to film some awesome behind the scenes videos for you showing how Archos makes things happen here in Shenzhen, I’ll try to film at their factories if possible.