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Look Out iPad. Here Comes Android

Latecomer Sony (NYSE: SNE) unveiled its first tablet computers April 26, taking a crucial step toward its ambitious goal of becoming the world’s second biggest tablet-maker after Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).

Even as rivals pushed out a slew of models over the past months, Sony took its time, emphasizing the need to differentiate its tablets from others.

This patience has produced the market’s first dual-screen tablet called the S2, which comes with 5.5 inch displays.

Sony’s Kunimasa Suzuki says the firm had mobility and convenience in mind: “We adopted a design that users can fold and carry easily.”

Sony’s S1 has a 9.4 inch display. Both run on Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android operating system, and are WiFi and 3/4G compatible.

The tablets will also allow PlayStation games.

Fans and early adopters still face a four-month wait though for the tablets.

“Both S1 and S2 will begin to be sold to customers worldwide from the fall of 2011,” says Suzuki.

The company raised eyebrows in January, when it said it was aiming to be number two in the tablet market within a year. It did not even have a tablet on the market at the time.

Apple released its first iPad a year ago.

Research firm Gartner says sales of tablet devices are expected to quadruple to about 294 million units over the next four years, with nearly half that Android-based.

Sony shares underperformed the broader market, closing over 2% lower Tuesday.

Bottom line: Sony’s 2 Android-based tablets – a single-screen and a dual-screen – will go on sale in the autumn, as the firm embarks on its goal of being number 2 in the tablet market.