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Walmart Inc. plans to sell a kid-friendly, Android-based tablet under its store brand, a spokesman for the retailer confirmed Thursday.

Walmart spokesman Tara House said in an email that she could confirm only that the company "is working on a private-label tablet." The Bentonville retailer isn't releasing any further information at this time, she said, such as how much the device will cost or when it will hit stores.

The tablet will be marketed under Walmart's private-label electronics brand ONN, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission. Store brands are lower-priced alternatives to name-brand products such as Apple's iPad or Amazon's Kindle Fire, so Walmart's tablet is likely to be relatively inexpensive.

Items marketed under the ONN brand have so far been mainly small electronics and accessories such as mice, speakers and cables. This makes the new tablet a big departure for the brand.

However, Carol Spieckerman, a retail consultant and president of Spieckerman Retail, said the move is more than a mere attempt to gain sales in this category.

"Just as Amazon's stable of devices are gateways to its e-commerce, entertainment and service ecosystem, Walmart's tablets may serve the same purpose," Spieckerman said in an email. The devices can be pre-loaded with apps "that encourage shoppers to expand their relationship with Walmart," she said.

And since private brands aren't as prevalent in consumer electronics as in other categories, she said, "Walmart does have an opportunity to offer value."

The FCC filings, dated Feb. 28, show the tablet is being developed by Chunghsin Technology Group Co., Ltd., a Chinese maker of consumer electronics. Photos show a streamlined device resembling a Kindle e-reader.

Jared Peters, editor of the tech blog TalkAndroid, said in an email that the documents show the ONN tablet will use Android 9.0, also called Android "Pie." This is the latest version of the Android mobile operating system.

"The specs are pretty modest and clearly aimed at something more-or-less disposable," he said in a blog post. "That probably means the price of the tablet won't be too bad, either."

The filings show the 8-inch device will have a 1280x800 display, 2 gigabytes of RAM and 16 gigabytes of internal storage. It also will have a memory card slot and Bluetooth connectivity.

Android tablets "aren't in a great place," Peters said in the blog post, "but there's still room for specialty devices. Walmart is looking to get in on that action.

"This also opens up the door to more Walmart tablets, assuming this [device] ends up being successful for the retail giant," he said.

Business on 03/15/2019

Print Headline: Retailer to sell tablet for children


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