By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
January 1, 2011

Organizers expect 40 to 80 iPad wannabees at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show

Tiernan Ray calls them the “tablet rat pack.” AFP‘s Glenn Chapman compares them to an invading army. PC Mag‘s Tim Gideon says they seem to be multiplying “like gremlins.”

They’re talking about the Apple (AAPL) iPad wannabees heading for the International Consumer Electronics Show that opens Thursday in Las Vegas. According to Chapman, organizers say that 40 to 80 touchscreen tablets could make an appearance of one sort of another at the industry’s largest tradeshow.

Given that neither Google’s (GOOG) tablet-ready “Honeycomb” software, Reseach in Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry Tablet OS nor Microsoft’s (MSFT) touchscreen version of Windows are quite ready, however, most of those appearances will be vaporous — announcements of future products or behind-closed-doors demos. Only Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and some Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) Palm-based tablets are known to be show worthy.

The rest of the devices that appear on the floor of CES will likely be running a version of Android that Google itself says is not tablet-ready. In his CES preview, PC Mag‘s Sascha Segan refers to them collectively as “The Island of Misfit Tablets.”

Once again this year, Apple is giving CES a pass. However, there will be an “iLounge” area devoted to selling software and accessories for iPads, iPhones and iPods that is said to cover 50,000 of the show’s 1.6 million square feet and is totally sold out.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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