Hey Sony, you know that the holidays are over now, right? Betanews reports that the company’s primary Android Honeycomb tablet, the Tablet S, is seeing a permanent price reduction by a cool $100. That brings the 16GB version down to $399 (in line with the original Eee Pad Transformer) and the 32GB version down to $499, directly competing with the 16GB iPad 2. There’s no word from Sony on the reasoning behind the price cut, but with low-cost Android tablets making a big splash this quarter, it’s likely that sales of the Tablet S haven’t been all that great.
Not that it isn’t worth it: the Tablet S gets solid reviews for it high-end build quality. But in a market where the Tablet S and the Transformer Prime were formerly at the same price for the same storage capacities, there wasn’t much beyond PlayStation certification to recommend the Tablet S over its competitors. Sony isn’t the only one slashing prices: Motorola and/or Verizon decided last week that the new DROID XYBOARD models were a bit pricey, and dropped all of them by $50 each. The cheapest 10 and 8-inch versions now start at $479 and $379, respectively, though a two-year wireless contract is still required.
Forward-thinking Android users will be happy to know that Sony has committed to releasing Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for its tablets, even if the split-screen Tablet P is still a disappointing no-show in America. But when it comes to price (if not power or quality) Sony and the rest of the top-tier manufacturers will have a tough time competing when low-end Chinese OEMs flood the market with ICS tablets over the next few months. As the first Android tablet OS to get an open-source release, Ice Cream Sandwich will enable the low end of the market in a way we haven’t seen before. Sony might want to keep those price-cutting scissors handy.