Gigabyte expects laptops to decline in popularity

COMPUTEX — One of our most interesting encounters at Computex so far wasn’t a product; rather, it was what we heard Gigabyte’s Henry Kao calmly explain in the VIP section of Gigabyte’s Taipei 101 suite. According to Kao, who serves as VP of Gigabyte’s motherboard business, "smart" handheld devices will gradually replace notebooks, and we will see a resurgence of desktop PCs before too long.

That prediction seems to fly in the face of recent market data, which tends to show notebook sales growing quicker than desktop sales. Nevertheless, Kao backed his statement with some numbers: smart phone vendors ship about 60 million units yearly, he said, while notebooks are a 200-million-unit market. Kao expects smart phones shipments to rise to 100 million next year. Add slate devices like the iPad (which seems to be selling quite well) to those figures, and the balance could shift.

The way Kao sees it, handheld growth will basically end up eating into laptop growth, and desktops will start growing quicker than notebooks again within just three to five years. Eventually, folks will have one desktop PC at home storing all their data—Kao doesn’t think cloud storage will take off in that respect—and at least one smart handheld device to use on the go.

With that view of the future, it’s no wonder Gigabyte maintains a strong focus on motherboards—unlike, say, Asus, which has branched out quite successfully into notebooks and netbooks (although it did introduce some slate devices at the show this week). Gigabyte has ambitious goals for the U.S. motherboard market in particular, expecting to unseat either Intel or Asus to become the U.S.’s number-two motherboard maker in terms of market share.

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    • blastdoor
    • 9 years ago

    I think that he might be right about the decline of the laptop, but I don’t think it will mean a resurgence of mini-tower style desktops. It’s really all about form factor and I/O. The reason that the laptop will decline is that the form factor kind of sucks. The screen being attached to the keyobaord in that limited way that it is means that laptops aren’t really great for “serious work”. For “serious work” I want a 24″ monitor and a nice full size keyboard and I want to sit at a desk. But that keyboard and monitor do not need to be plugged into a tower or some other immense box. They could be plugged into something much smaller, or the computer could be inside the monitor.

    I suspect that the future will entail home NAS solutions, extremely unobtrusive computers embedded into monitors (iMacs), tablets, and smart phones. The form factor of the laptop and the form factor of the desktop will gradually disappear.

    • thermistor
    • 9 years ago

    #27…Throw in an inkjet printer, a 1-year subscription for Kapersky for only 14.99/month and you’ve got at deal!

    • clone
    • 9 years ago

    I agree with his comments to a point….. privacy concerns will slow cloud adoption and a smartphone that works like a laptop or a much faster netbook would be awesome but the idea of a dedicated pc room seems outdated limiting that future…… HTPC’s are having a rough go fighting consoles today let alone how bad it’ll be tomorrow……… for Gigabyte / PC to survive Microsoft needs to be onboard hard core but they aren’t, Microsoft is more interested in consoles for the living room and while Apple can do it does Gigabyte make their mobo’s?

    • xii
    • 9 years ago

    It of course depends on the definition of laptop. If tablets and smart phones converge with traditional laptops (because the technology allows these form factors to be fast enough), sure people might buy less laptops… But some of those tablets and smart phones could probably end up being pretty similar to laptops.

    As an admin, programmer and power user however, I doubt any serious users will have any interest in tablets in the foreseeable future. I see tablets and smart phones as consumer gadgets with limited functionality, toys almost, in a whole other category than ‘real’ computers with which ‘real’ work can be done.

    • xzelence
    • 9 years ago

    “r[

    • thermistor
    • 9 years ago

    The question is what will the portable device of the future look like? A notebook/MID/slate/netbook…likely a bit of “all of the above.” But all of these have a scenario where they are someone’s 2nd/3rd/4th PC, with a full-power desktop for syncing/linking/etc.

    I’d love for someone to show me a notebook that will run Solidworks as well as a tower with 16Gb memory/latest 3+ GHz Cpu/dedicated firepro/quadro card. Running SW on a pretty nice notebook and it is s-l-o-w.

    I think the Gigabyte dude is on to something…towers will not re-capture market from the gadget space, but will definitely not cede any more ground.

    • swaaye
    • 9 years ago

    In my neck of the woods, people want notebooks instead of desktops so I don’t see notebooks becoming unpopular. It would mean a move away from full-function computers entirely.

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    I know LOTS of people that barely touch their laptops anymore and only use their iPhones. People seem to forget that most people only use their laptops for emails, facebook and photos, which can all be done on the iPhone more conveniently.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    lolocaust!

      • tay
      • 9 years ago

      This. There is no way desktops are coming back. mini-ITX maybe. But ATX is too big.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        Not mini-ITX, but EeeBox and Acer Revo sized machines are easily doable.

        • grantmeaname
        • 9 years ago

        ATX is too big; too many functions that once required an add-in-board are now integrated. mATX is going to be fine, though. mini-ITX has no real advantages over mATX and many drawbacks.

    • ApockofFork
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t see this happening. I know tons of people that regardless of what other devices they own just don’t even consider desktops anymore. When they think about a computer to own they only think about laptop. Desktops are for the corporate world and power users it seems. Desktops aren’t necessarily much cheaper these days either. You can get a solid dell laptop for $450 which can be beat by a desktop but not by much. In general going desktop just means you’ll get a more powerful machine at a particular price point but most people don’t care about that.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 9 years ago

    Although I have neither a laptop nor a smart phone (or a cell phone for that matter), I can see this trend happening. Smart phones are increasingly become more powerful and being able to do more. Tablets, like the *shudder* ipad have enough screen estate to do what you would do with a laptop. Browse emails and write word documents.

      • Mithent
      • 9 years ago

      I can see it happening logically, yes – I already use a smartphone and a desktop, and my laptop is essentially abandoned. I dislike the limitations of a laptop compared to my desktop, while it doesn’t have the advantage of always being with me like my smartphone.

      Unfortunately, though, laptops are more likely to take over from desktops in this scenario, resulting in laptop + mobile devices – it seems the majority of people do prefer laptops. If you need to move a fully-featured computer around then there’s clearly a use for one, but I fear that they’re generally used as desktop replacements just because they look trendier and use less space (though personally I hate using them on my lap). Most people don’t seem to care about the small screens and poor ergonomics (if I’m going to attach an external monitor, keyboard and mouse, I may as well have a desktop in most scenarios) and lack of upgradeability or even serviceability.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    Company that doesn’t do much with notebooks says notebooks won’t grow…hmmm. He does have a decent point about devices more mobile than laptops being the strong growth area but that isn’t a reason for laptops to cede market share back to desktops.

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