NEW YORK: Google, Nokia and Microsoft are among the companies which are due to follow Apple's iPad, and release "converged" devices providing access to a wide range of media content.

As previously reported, Apple has estimated that is has sold around 450,000 iPads in the US since its launch on April 3.

Google, the online search giant, has recently heightened its presence in the mobile sector with the introduction of its Nexus One smartphone, which is run by its Android operating system.

According to the New York Times, Eric Schmidt, Google's ceo, has strongly hinted that it is in the process of developing a "tablet" like the iPad, with HTC, the handset maker, being one possible partner.

Hewlett-Packard, the IT specialist, has already built a similar product of its own, called a "slate", and which has informally been dubbed the "half-pint" as it is six inches smaller across than the iPad.

According to Phil McKinney, the chief technology officer of HP's personal systems group, it started working on this gadget five years ago, but delayed unveiling it until costs came down.

"I have one sitting on my desk. We don't react or respond to competitive timing and those types of issues," he said.

A promotional video for this appliance promised that it would supply a "holistic mobile experience" and would "run the complete internet".

By contrast, the iPad is currently incompatible with Adobe's Flash software which is used to support many websites and mobile advertising formats.

Moreover, Hewlett-Packard's offering, which should be available by mid-2010, boasts a camera and room to connect hardware such as a computer mouse, which is not an option for owners of the iPad.

Microsoft, the software company, released a "tablet" computer through a partnership with HP earlier this year, and is now building a more innovative alternative, the Courier, with two separate screens.

This tool would enable consumers to write on the display panels with a pen, and to "drag and drop" material between screens, but it is not expected to be market-ready until 2011 at the earliest.

It took a step in this direction this week with the launch of Kin, a smartphone based on its Windows operating system, and which combines feeds from Facebook, Twitter and MySpace in one place.

"We saw an opportunity to design a mobile experience just for this social generation," said Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment and devices division at Microsoft.

Nokia, the world's biggest handset manufacturer, is also planning to sell an electronic book reader that will offer a range of applications to customers.

"We're living in extremely exciting times right now," Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Nokia's chief executive, said.

"It's quite challenging to define what industry we are in because everything is changing."

He added that the impetus towards "converged" devices reflected changes in media behaviour among consumers.

“The consumer will obviously have much more choice when it comes to where or what I want to connect to,” Kallasvuo said.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff