Wired posted the above picture, showing the wide range of Windows 8 hybrid tablets/laptops which will be hitting the market shortly.
While there is a lot of trepidation about the reception Windows 8 will have in in the market, it does enable a wide variety of new form factors which may boost the moribund laptop market.
“I do believe the convertibles have the ability to draw consumer attention,” IHS iSuppli analyst Craig Stice says. “The question of course will boil down to price with these new convertibles and how competitive they will be able to be versus the tablet.”
Companies likeHP, Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Acer, Samsung, Toshiba, and Asus have all started pushing into this new category of convertible devices, with devices ranging in price for $700 to $1600, with the majority priced similar to an ultrabook.
“Hybrid devices will not drive the overall growth [of the PC market] as long as the price point is higher than the $700 range,” Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa told Wired. “When the price drops below $700, it will start picking up.”
The devices however offer instant differentiation from what Apple offers in the same high-end space, with Apple’s Tim Cook saying they will not be delivering devices with the same form factors.
“Anything can be forced to converge,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during an investor call in April. “But the problem is that products are about trade-offs, and you begin to make trade-offs to the point where what you have left doesn’t please anyone. You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user.”
The renewed ability for OEMs to innovate and differentiate may just be what the PC market needs right now, while they compete with the smartphone industry for consumer dollars and attention.
“The innovation and breadth of PCs for Windows 8 is phenomenal, with all-in-ones, traditional notebooks now with touch, convertibles that enable new usage scenarios and tablets,” Microsoft told Wired in a statement. “There really is a Windows 8 PC for everyone.”
Intel found in a consumer survey that when consumers were asked to choose between a all-in-one desktop PC with touch, a clamshell notebook with touch, a convertible with touch, a touch tablet, and an notebook without touch, 75 percent chose the touch clamshell notebook as their device of choice, 44 percent also said that they would want a convertible, indicating consumer interest in the new style of devices.
“We think that a convertible done right is going to give people a good blend of capabilities,” Intel’s director of ultrabook marketing Karen Regis told Wired. “What we’ve seen is that it’s very appealing to a lot of consumers, we think there’s a play for business as well.”
“We think that this could be an inflection point,” Regis he continued. “We think touch is going to be important. It’s going to ramp up quickly in the PC space and that’s why Intel has gone out and secured capacity beyond the forecasted need.”
“It will create a good atmosphere in the consumer PC market,” says Gartner’s Kitagawa. “It shows innovation, regardless of consumers’ actual purchase intentions.”