Netbook pioneer planning iPad rivals

Taiwanese maker of digital hardware, Asustek is planning to steal Apple's thunder, along with every me-too OEM on the planet, by releasing a tablet PC and an ebook reader.

Realising that Apple is probably onto something - and ignoring the rest of the world which seems to have given the Cupertino company's iPad a resound 'meh' despite never having actually seen the device, let alone used one - Asus CEO Jerry Shen let slip that his company plans to release the Apple-aping kit in the second half of this year.

Shen has been quite forthright in his admission that he would wait for Apple to either triumph or crash and burn in the tablet market before he dipped his toes into the untested waters. And if he sticks to the predicted time-frame he'll have a good six months of Apple sales figures with which to colour his decision.

According to a report on Computerworld, Shen also hinted that the company might be developing what is is calling a smartbook - basically an unholy alliance between a netbook and a smartphone.

The company is also eyeing the e-book market according to the report and will be punting the imaginatively-named Eee Book at this year's computerpalooza techfest, Computex in Taipei.