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Gadgets & Home Improvement

S'pore-made tablets for world market

Karuma, Fusion Garage, Creative Technology penetrate tablet market with home-grown devices
The Straits Times - December 12, 2011
By: Grace Chng
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S'pore-made tablets for world market Mr Ashley Sayed, co-founder of Karuma, with the child-proof PlayBase tablets. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE tech firms Karuma and Fusion Garage are venturing into the fiercely competitive tablet market with home-grown devices.

Fusion Garage, which developed its first tablet called Joo Joo in 2009, has come back to the market after that disappointment with the 10.1-inch Grid 10.

Fusion Garage did not respond to queries and there is no news when Grid 10, which has 16GB of storage and comes in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/3G versions, will hit the market, but it will sell for around US$299 (S$390).

Karuma, a two-year-old product development firm, has developed the PlayBase, a seven-inch tablet that is meant for adults but is also child-proof.

It has rounded edges, large buttons and a rubberised cover that doubles as a stand, so it will keep out dirt and dust, and prevent scratches and dents.

It goes on sale here for US$249 at from today.

Karuma co-founder Ashley Sayed said his idea for a kid-proof tablet came to him when his nephew dropped his parents' iPad and broke the screen.

'My team did some research, talked to parents and children here and in England, and we created the PlayBase,' said Mr Sayed, who is a Singapore permanent resident.

He has ambitious plans to build apps for the PlayBase, including games and lifestyle.

Karuma has been taking pre-orders for the PlayBase in England from Nov 19. 'Amazing orders have been received,' said Mr Sayed, but he did not reveal the number.

He added that the company will start fulfilling the orders this week.

It comes with 8GB of storage, has Wi-Fi, and battery estimated to last five hours.

The two companies join Singapore firm Creative Technology, whose Zii tablets have been on sale here since December last year. The 10-inch 8GB goes for $399, while $299 gets you a seven-inch 8GB model.

Tablets as a computing segment emerged only when Apple's iPad launched last year, but the market has blossomed.

This year, 52 million tablets will be sold across the world, according to research firm Yankee Group. Next year, it forecasts almost 90 million units will move.

Mr Bryan Ma, an associate vice-president at IDC research, said much of this growth will be driven by the iPad. The iPad 3 is expected to launch next year, further fuelling this segment's blistering growth.

Samsung, Acer and Lenovo also make tablets, using the Android operating system, which is also employed by the PlayBase, Grid 10 and Zii devices.



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