TESCO has expanded from selling tomatoes and tinned food to take on the might of Apple and Amazon by launching its own tablet computer.
The supermarket giant hopes the colourful, Android-operated gadget called the Hudl, priced at £119, will attract customers who might not be able to afford an Apple iPad or a Nexus 7.
The Hudl has a seven-inch, high-definition widescreen display, nine hours of video battery life and 16GB of memory, which can be extended to 48GB.
Tesco Clubcard customers will be able to get their hands on a Hudl for less than £100.
The tablet has an in-built Tesco launcher button, which allows users to shop, see their Clubcard points, watch movies on Tesco’s Blinkbox system and listen to music.
While Jeff Bezo, the founder of Amazon, has said the Kindle Fire, which sells for £159, does not make the company a penny of profit, and in fact incurs a small loss, Tesco’s chief marketing officer, Matt Atkinson, said its model, which the company built from scratch, was commercially viable.
Chris Field, an independent business consultant said: “They’ll shift a few tens of thousands, children will love it, but it will not become widely adopted. The market for tablets is growing and they are getting better all the time; Tesco won’t be able to keep up. Selling it under £99 is surely where this will go, but most think Tesco will make a loss even at £119.
“Having to provide customer support will only add to their costs.
“The tablet carries Tesco content which will not be welcomed by everyone. It also has to compete with smartphones which, while their screens are smaller, are adequate for most people and generally offered free under mobile phone contracts.
“Bear in mind, Tesco is trying to reconnect with its customers and is considering lots of good ideas. They won’t all work, but they might learn enough from doing tablets to justify the investment, even if it fails.
“They are a retailer not a consumer electronics company. Sure, the tablet is another channel to market, but what’s wrong with what they already have?
“You don’t tie people in through the device, unless you are Apple, you tie them in through the apps – better to work on improving tesco.com I’d say.”
Tom Royal, editor of Popular Science UK said: “The question is – is Tesco going to become a really big name with people saying: ‘I’m going to buy a Tesco tablet not an iPad’?
“I don’t think that is likely, but they are selling this thing so cheaply that it will become a commodity item.
“Ten years ago, if you went to Tesco you could buy beans and pasta and beer. Today you can buy a cheap TV and sometimes they are so cheap they are almost an impulse buy for some people.
“Tesco is not a silly company. they don’t make this kind of move without thinking about it carefully, and I’m sure they will sell plenty of these things. Whether or not they make much money from them is another matter.”