The WePad, the as-yet unavailable tablet device from Germany's Neofonie (the page translated to English is available here, courtesy of Google Translate) has been receiving quite a bit of press this weekend. Maybe it's because we're right around the corner from the iPad launch on April 3rd. Maybe it's because some worrisome talk is emerging regarding the control of content and Apps on the iPad. Maybe it's just because markets love competition. Whatever the reason, if this device can actually make it to store shelves any time in the first half of 2010, Apple may find that it has a real competitor on its hands in a way that Microsoft's Slate just can't provide.
A working prototype of the WePad was on display at CeBit and the device is currently being aimed at the German market where Neofonie already produces a variety of content and runs a search engine (WeMagazine and WeFind, respectively). However, a Samsung tablet with very similar specs has also been leaked, suggesting either potential crossover into other markets or simply a common ODM specification.
Like I said, this device remains a bit close to Vaporware for my tastes. However, specifications and photos available on the WePad site, the Facebook page, and various outlets (the European TechCrunch site has a particularly good writeup) suggests that a robust, direct competitor to the iPad is just around the corner.
Helmut Hoffer Von Ankershoffen (neofonie GmbH) holding the WePad at CeBit: While the iPad may be first to market, there are a number of tablets (hopefully the WePad will be among them) well along in the pipeline that will pit Android (running in slate form) and its Apps Marketplace head to head against Apple's tablet. The smart consumer will hang on for a couple months and let the dust settle a bit to see which product and associated ecosystem meets their needs better.