Report: PC makers to cede tablet market

DigiTimes’ sources are usually pretty solid, and the latest speculation to slip through their lips is that PC hardware makers like Acer, Asus, Dell, and HP will bow out of the tablet market. Say what? According to moles buried deep within the supply chain, it will become too difficult to compete on price with tablet makers that also derive revenue from content sold through their devices. Apple has iTunes and its vast App Store, the Nook has Barnes & Noble, and Amazon is, well, Amazon.

DigiTimes contends Amazon and Barnes & Noble are primarily profiting from content sales—something that will be difficult for traditional PC makers to match. Apple is in the enviable position of being able to extract profit wherever it wants, although competition from cheaper tablets might put downward pressure on iPad prices.

While it’s true PC makers are at somewhat of a disadvantage, it seems unlikely they’ll be willing to give up on slates entirely. Further segmentation within the tablet space seems far more probable. Device makers who profit primarily on content sales will be able to offer basic slates at bargain prices. These budget tablets will likely have low-res screens, relatively slow hardware, and much less functionality than the Windows 8-powered alternatives offered by PC makers, whose systems will look much more like convertible notebooks or Asus’ Eee Pad Transformer. Apple, for its part, should be poised to compete with both camps.

Comments closed
    • BabelHuber
    • 11 years ago

    You don’t seem to see my point: iOS-devices are not secure. An iPhone can easily be hacked within minutes.

    I don’t state that Android is superiour, both platforms are worse than using Blackberries.

    The fact that a lot of companies work with iOS nevertheless does not matter. The information is simply not secure.

    Arguing that is is an advantage not having a file browser is simply stupid IMHO. If I need one I have one, that’s an advantage, not vice versa.

    • SPOOFE
    • 11 years ago

    [quote<]Why would a user who is looking between an iPad and anything else choose anything EXCEPT the iPad around the iPad price?[/quote<] USB ports.

    • Anarchist
    • 11 years ago

    oh yeah … I think the door-stops are also on fire sale at your local dollar store … those might be more functional.

    • WaltC
    • 11 years ago

    It’s always gratifying when someone grasps the transient nature of “tablets” as form factors. As such, the market is far from settled. Extreme portability is coming, and when it does it certainly will not be for the convenience of Apple, or any other hardware retailer. Portables will become more portable and desktops will become more powerful, and that equilibrium doesn’t look to change for the foreseeable future.

    • TakinYourPoints
    • 11 years ago

    Microsoft should make a stripped down tablet running WP7 and a Metro theme optimized towards a 10″ screen. I’d love to see this. Maybe Windows 8 tablets will manage to be light, thin, and with 10+ hour battery life, but until I see it with my own eyes I’ll still be hoping.

    • TakinYourPoints
    • 11 years ago

    Your quotation completely ignores everything else regarding weak security policies currently in use by Android.

    [quote<]The iPad is not used in enterprise because it's established, it's used because of the 39 or so ActiveSync security policies that can be applied to an ActiveSync compliant device, only iOS devices support them. Android supports around 7, and is essentially entirely useless for anything other than a casual device. It simply isn't possible right now to have a "secure" Android device, or even pretend you have one.[/quote<] Yes you can narrow down to just a few Android tablets, but these are the same ones that still have fundamental security issues. This will continue to be an issue until Google steps up and gives full backing to their tablet OS in terms of security, or if a hardware manufacturer takes the reins and does it for them. Regarding your friend's issue sending you music, he should download GoodReader, it functions as a file explorer for iOS. [quote<]With Android, I also have choices regarding everything. With iOS, you don't.[/quote<] Unfortunately one of the choices with Android isn't robust developer support. Developer support and applications give utility to the device in a way that exceeds tweaking your home screen or navigating a file system (and hey, there's an app for that). If the two things eventually get merged, great, but if I have to pick between one and the other it will certainly be for the faster device that has applications written for it. EDIT: There's also a fundamental difference in opinion we have here, where I'm less and less seeing the importance of a file browser. I mostly ditched them long ago for applications that manage files for me via metadata. Steam, Mediamonkey, iTunes, even Adobe Lightroom abstracts the file system away from the application interface. Professional applications like Final Cut Pro, Avid, and Maya did this for years before they even entered the commercial space. This is before we get to Spotlight/Windows Search and Smart Folders. Sometimes a file explorer is not the best way to manage assets. An application that has a UI optimized towards workflow and specific usage with files and data has been the way going forward for a long time. So yeah, I really don't understand your fixation on a file explorer, especially when there are so many other benefits in iOS that far exceed it even if a file explorer is seen as a positive (and again, there's an app for that. 😉 )

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 11 years ago

    Quick get the transformer 2! I’m sure the win 8 release will change this again. Also high end tablets will still have a place.

    I’d love to see this:

    [url<]http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Slate-EP121-1A010M-12-1-Inch-Tablet/dp/B004HKIIFI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321626848&sr=8-1[/url<] with win8

    • dashbarron
    • 11 years ago

    I pretty much agree with you. I don’t know why a reasonably informed consumer would buy a generic tablet from X company when B&N, Amazon, and Apple offer tablets with loads of content to offer. I really see the market dwindled down to these three at the moment. I doubt that Windows 8 will proliferate big-time into the tablet world.

    • designerfx
    • 11 years ago

    ereaders? yes. POS systems? no.

    Anyone with a company provided cellphone and the square app on android or ios device (tablet or smartphone for either) along with the card swiper is now a mobile POS. minimal hardware requirements, extremely portable, receipts emailed. Major selling point for all sorts of things.

    basically: [url<]https://squareup.com/#!square[/url<]

    • designerfx
    • 11 years ago

    on the most basic level, you have more functionality from a touchpad (on a laptop) and keyboard than you do from a touchscreen. thus, the touchscreen is just an additional feature that doesn’t even provide anything extra functionality over the former.

    I don’t care if the resolution is 4K resolutions, it doesn’t add anything.

    I would compare this to adding those artist stylists that people use to draw webcomics to a computer and adding functionality to control the OS using it. who would be so stupid when you have the keyboard and mouse right next to you?

    Touchscreen on a laptop makes more sense when it is it’s own display area that you can control basic things, eliminating the need for stupid buttons and providing there is an on/off switch. a touchscreen “panel” inside a laptop would be nice to get rid of how Function keys and fkeys overlap, but again you don’t need a touchscreen for that.

    • BabelHuber
    • 11 years ago

    [quote<]The fragmented nature of the Android device market means there's no central solution for it, either. Even if the software met the requirements for securing a device, we would still have to narrow it down to one or two devices, because we can't certify or support the entire gamut. Thus, we use iPads.[/quote<] This is utter BS: [b<]Of xourse[/b<] you must narrow Android devices down to a few allowed ones. What's the difference in only using iPads and e.g. in only using the Lenovo tablet? Also, I talked to a CIO a few months back, and he told me he only allows blackberries. People can buy Android or iOS-devices from their own money and use it privately, he told me. But for security reasons only Blackberries are allowed for sensitive content. OTOH I also know a company where managers buy iOS or Android devices and want support from their IT. And the IT does what they want, after all they are the bosses. Needless to say, the first company`s approach is sensible, while the latter is stupid. A third possibility is this overly stupid 'bring your own device'-policy, which some companies enforce on their seemingly also-stupid employees. This is the only policy where I can imagine a broad range of allowed devices. But if my company wants me to use a tablet for work, they must provide one for me, like they are providing me a notebook now. But when I pay something with my own money, I use it as I see fit. I won't allow my company to force any policy on any device I have bought (no rooting allowed, passwords policy, remote wiping....). [quote<]I will say that the things you are concerned about (file browser, tweaking the dashboard), are completely secondary to me[/quote<] You don't need a file browser? Are you really saying you prefer starting an app like Adobe Reader and then browsing through all PDFs you have? Do you really want to tell me this is more comfortable than opening the file browser, select the PDF you want and opening it by clicking on it? I don`t think so, I prefer the browser. A friend of mine who makes music even was unable to transmit an MP3 from his iPhone to any of my devices, even though it is his creation! With Android, you can open the file browser, select the MP3 and then send it via E-Mail, Bluetooth and whatnot. With the iPhone, you cannot. Hence this is a crappy phone for me, no matter how shiny the UI is. Also, do you really want Apple to decide what you are allowed to install? I prefer installing what I want. I prefer being able to use the market over having to use the App Store, really. [quote<]People can talk about how amazing Linux distros are to tweak all they want[/quote<] This comparison is completely invalid. I can do whatever I want with Windows. I can use the Windows Explorer and I also can use Total Commander. I can use IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera etcetcetc. I can tweak my UI as I see fit. With Android, I also have choices regarding everything. With iOS, you don't.

    • TakinYourPoints
    • 11 years ago

    Regarding security, here’s a relevant post from another board I go to:

    [quote<]...we have to follow industry regulations and institutional policies around encryption of data at rest and mobile device management. Android is basically useless in a business setting because there has been almost no consideration given to most of these issues. The fragmented nature of the Android device market means there's no central solution for it, either. Even if the software met the requirements for securing a device, we would still have to narrow it down to one or two devices, because we can't certify or support the entire gamut. Thus, we use iPads. The iPad is not used in enterprise because it's established, it's used because of the 39 or so ActiveSync security policies that can be applied to an ActiveSync compliant device, only iOS devices support them. Android supports around 7, and is essentially entirely useless for anything other than a casual device. It simply isn't possible right now to have a "secure" Android device, or even pretend you have one. In addition, narrowing it down to one or two tablets is a LOT harder than you think. We were prepared to support the Galaxy Tab for a separate entity we have to support, but the lawsuits from Apple made us change our minds. Bottom line is no company except Apple has a real investment in the success of a tablet and its ecosystem. Google doesn't even come close for the reasons you mentioned. Now if Google were to get into the tablet business, I think it'd be a total failure. They can't deliver a product that can last, because whatever they make will be immediately aped by another company looking to explore the market without making a substantial investment in it. I hope none of my comments come across as discouraging competition, because that's not how I feel. I love competition and innovation in the sector, but the fact is after every other competitor shows their stuff off, the long-term stability and short-term supportability and security of iPads vastly outstrips other devices.[/quote<] It's interesting to hear the experience of your friend. We'll see how things shake out over the next few years. The other concerns, ie a file browser, do not matter at all to me, nor does being able to do things like run Quake 3. It's a cute experiment but I'd rather play it with the interface for which it was designed for (mouse and keyboard). Or even better, play something like Dead Space or Infinity Blade that was made from the ground up for a 10" touch screen/gyro interface. And they look better to boot. 🙂 The point is that iPad applications are designed [i<]specifically[/i<] towards that one device. Not a smartphone, not a laptop, not a desktop, not a console, just for a 10" touchscreen running iOS. The specificity in the UI and purpose you get out of something like that exceeds ports or even running smartphone apps. If I have a choice between running an iPhone app at double res or an iPad version, iPad version every time, no contest. Then there's the fact that Android devices are still playing catchup in terms of hardware specs. Even Tegra 3 is roughly at the level of the A5 GPU. It isn't make or break for most usage, but it does put a ceiling on what sort of applications/games can be developed and run smoothly. Android has had enough trouble getting all of the apps of iOS despite it's larger install base in smartphones (blame hardware, OS version, and store fragmentation). It's going to have an even harder time getting tablet developers given the iPad's absolute sales dominance over Honeycomb. Again, we'll see how things shake out. I will say that the things you are concerned about (file browser, tweaking the dashboard), are [i<]completely secondary[/i<] to me compared to solid developer support. People can talk about how amazing Linux distros are to tweak all they want, but if it can't do what my Windows 7 machine can (even though I wouldn't mind switching to Ubuntu if it was feasible) then it really doesn't matter, you know? User tweakability < developer support and hardware quality, that's just how I feel. 🙂

    • PeterD
    • 11 years ago

    But what if you don’t want to be hooked up on 1 content supplier when you buy a tablet?

    • BabelHuber
    • 11 years ago

    [quote<]This argument ignores the fact that the library of high quality apps that are targeted for iOS tablets is massive.[/quote<] I have never had issues with missing application in the market. Heck, I even downloaded a free version of Quake III Arena for Android. OTOH the iPad doesn't even have a file browser! I don't want a tablet without a file browser. In fact I never will buy any device which cannot act as USB stick. Not haveing a file browser, not being able to use the tablet as USB stick and not being able to install apps without the app store/ market are deal-breakers for me. Compared to these disadvantages, all advantages of the iPad pale in comparison. [quote<]This goes for enterprise as well since companies aren't deploying Android tablets due to major security concerns.[/quote<] Companies also aren't deploying iPads due to major security concerns. I know customers where the management uses iPads or even Android tablets, but I would not recommend either. Also note that the Lenovo Android tablet does support data encryption, password policies and remote wiping. Also, Google is working on enhancing security. A friend of mine works for a big company which currently is developing a mobile infrastructure for Android and iOS. He told me that Google is working closely together with them on enhancing security on Android devices. Apple, on the other hand, didn't even reply to their E-Mails. He also says that nevertheless they will support iOS because of the market share it has. From a technical point of view, he expects Android to surpass iOS regarding security features in the long run, though.

    • TakinYourPoints
    • 11 years ago

    [quote<]With an iPad, you can do exactly what Aplle allows you to, not more.[/quote<] This argument ignores the fact that the library of high quality apps that are targeted for iOS tablets is massive. Being able to tweak and tinker is cool and all, but if you want to actually do something with a a tablet, iOS is currently the way to go. Android applications lag a little bit smartphones, but the difference in tablet libraries is absolutely massive. This goes for enterprise as well since companies aren't deploying Android tablets due to major security concerns. No enterprise deployment means no serious productivity apps. Saying that you can customize your launcher means little to me when there's little you can actually [i<]do[/i<] with a Honeycomb tablet in comparison.

    • Mourmain
    • 11 years ago

    Apparently, yes.

    • ew
    • 11 years ago

    Microsoft should just make their own Windows 8 tablets.

    • BabelHuber
    • 11 years ago

    [quote<]No. I've been saying this a long time. They don't get it. If they're anywhere around the iPad price and arguing about performance, they've already lost. Why would a user who is looking between an iPad and anything else choose anything EXCEPT the iPad around the iPad price? Forget Windows 8 tablets, forget Android tablets, forget WebOS, etc. If it's near the price of an iPad, it's no contest. iPad wins.[/quote<] Well, I bought the original Samsung Galaxy Tab last year despite it being more expensive than the first iPad back then. Why? Because I knew I could customize the hell out of it (launcher, browser, custom-ROMs etc), I even can download an installer, start the file browser and install it. With an iPad, you can do exactly what Aplle allows you to, not more. I don't know why Samsung et al don't use this fact for marketing purposes and rely on specs instead. At least for me this was the factor that counted.

    • sschaem
    • 11 years ago

    And android device maker get 30% of all app revenue…. I never seen since happen on windows.

    Its like Dell getting a check for $600 every time someone buy 3dsmax on a Dell PC.

    • Corrado
    • 11 years ago

    Ultrabooks are a response to the MacBook Air. Intel saw the profit it could reap from lower power, higher performance CPUs than the Atom, but no one had a reason to pay the premium when they could make it a half inch thicker and get a normal, non CULV CPU. If Intel starts pushing ‘Ultrabook’, people are possibly going to latch on to the marketing half of it and force manufacturers to buy up more expensive chips. When the cheapest non-Atom chip can do ANYTHING 90% of the market wants to do, what can Intel do to drive demand for more expensive chips up?

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 11 years ago

    Most consumers don’t care about having tablets that transform into PC’s. They have a PC. They don’t need another one, especially not one that is full of compromises. Tablets have taken over the, “primarily secondary PC” space that netbooks used to enjoy.

    As such, I suspect most users want a device that is “good enough” with a full and rich media/app experience combined with a browser that is good enough to run most sites they want. Asus, Dell, Acer, HP… they all thought that they could come into iPad’s backyard and price higher, offer high numbers on their spec charts, and everyone would show up for the state of the art.

    No. I’ve been saying this a long time. They don’t get it. If they’re anywhere around the iPad price and arguing about performance, they’ve already lost. Why would a user who is looking between an iPad and anything else choose anything EXCEPT the iPad around the iPad price? Forget Windows 8 tablets, forget Android tablets, forget WebOS, etc. If it’s near the price of an iPad, it’s no contest. iPad wins.

    Amazon and B&N aren’t even addressing the same target audience as Apple. Apple wants the crowd who won’t mind dropping $500 on a tablet, plus they can rake in all the profits from their media distribution as a bonus. Amazon and B&N want to make money only from their media distribution, but they know that Apple’s leaving money on the table(t) by ignoring the fact that the cheapseats, the “I won’t pay as much as a laptop for a tablet” crowd, are still out there wishing they had a tablet. Wishing, but finding none of the cheaper tablets are any good, have any media distribution network worth a damn, or are made by any company they trust.

    Then Amazon shows up with the Kindle Fire and makes a magic price point below $200. B&N, to a more limited degree, showed it was possible with its $249 Nook Color, and HP hammered home the fact when they spewed the last of their WebOS crap in a final fire sale diarrhea that forever shook the price point people want a tablet to be around. HP, in particular, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are a LOT of people willing to make compromises on app availability IF the device is still good and IF the maker is trustworthy and brandworthy.

    Amazon’s just taking that to its natural conclusion. Amazon’s tapping a market of users that Apple seemingly has no time for (currently) and they’ll take a hit on hardware costs in order to entrench all these new users–cheapseats that they are–within the Kindle ecosystem before Apple even gets a shot at them.

    It will be telling to see how or if Tim Cook responds before a whole lot of users who won’t pay $500 for a tablet start their journey in the Amazon Kindle ecosystem and are locked in by every $1 and free app they purchase therein. It’ll be hard to get the user who’s invested in apps in the Kindle app store to go, “Yah, I’m throwing all those purchases away to go iPad now!” This is what keeps the Android App store from taking off; they’ve lacked a real tablet at a price that would get the cheapseats in their store.

    Now Apple’s going to get a dose of its own medicine as Amazon does to it what it’s been doing to Android. Only two things can keep this from going awry against Apple: Kindle Fire turns out to be a lemon or Apple responds with a cheaper option (perhaps an iPad 2 that keeps selling after iPad 3 launches) and a bigger push of Universal apps.

    Meanwhile, you know Amazon’s already preparing another Kindle Fire for launch…

    • dmjifn
    • 11 years ago

    What is this, youtube?

    • Deanjo
    • 11 years ago

    Don’t forget Blackberry starts their firesale on the Playbook tomorrow as well.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 11 years ago

    They also want a decent keyboard, non-mirror glossed screen, docking station, and more battery life. Ultrabooks do not fulfill these needs, while many existing business laptops have for years.

    Most of that can be addressed over time, but in the end, all ultrabooks are about as thinness, which automatically means a keyboard with nice key travel is out the window. It’s incredibly silly, as a standard laptop that’s 0.8″ to 1″ thick is not cumbersome by any stretch of the imagination.

    Lighter laptops? Sure, but we were already headed that way. Ultrabooks don’t even really influence the future development of laptops. That’s what tablets do, and ultrabooks are just a poor response to tablets.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 11 years ago

    I think that’s still a very shortsighted view, and this is coming from someone who has no use for a tablet.

    The fact that we have finite needs for getting work done is more of an argument for touch screens than against. Touch screens are simpler, but a lot of work is also simpler than what calls for a mouse, and especially a keyboard.

    I’d love it if taking my laptop off the dock meant the keyboard and bulk of the body also came off and I could just carry it around with one hand and poke a few things on the screen to quickly bring up something I need to look at.

    I used to think that touch screens were pointless for most work, but a touch screen computer doesn’t have to be “just a tablet” anymore.

    • designerfx
    • 11 years ago

    unless this is brought on by the microsoft patent shakedown, and even then I’m skeptical, I would call asus bowing out on making tablets about as likely as George Bush is to be black.

    in short, not even remotely likely or accurate.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 11 years ago

    The Ultrabook market makes sense, IMHO.

    In the business world, people want a solid, lightweight notebook that (unlike a netbook) has reasonable performance and a full-sized keyboard. They also want to run apps that aren’t available from a tablet vendor’s App store.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 11 years ago

    I just got an announcement from my Dell rep 1-2 weeks ago about the tablet they’ll be introducing with an eye towards business/education markets this month.

    I find it hard to believe they’re throwing in the towel already.

    • Ushio01
    • 11 years ago

    The entire consumer electronic space is going Apple with everyone else being the equivalent of Via in the x86 space.

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    I think he thinks it is worthless because we have finite requirements for getting work done and tablets+gestures can’t fulfill that need (yet) nearly as well as notebooks+thousands of input/output options+legacy.

    • jdaven
    • 11 years ago

    So let me get this straight. The generic PC market (Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, etc.) first tried the Netbook. That worked for a little while until the iPad came out. Then the Netbook market basically collapsed. Second they tried the Tablet market. This story is telling us that they are failing or already failed there as well. Third they are trying the Ultrabook market. We can basically say ‘Lol’ on that one.

    So where does that leave the generic PC market to go to next?

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 11 years ago

    Will you think it’s worthless when it means they also have to use IPS panels, and possibly the very same high resolution ones that tablets and phones are starting to have?

    • hendric
    • 11 years ago

    Don’t forget that Google purchased Motorola, and Motorola makes the Xoom.

    • LaChupacabra
    • 11 years ago

    Agreed. Tablets as we know them today will probably end up the e-readers and POS systems of tomorrow. With things like the ASUS Transformer doing well and Samsung looking ready to mass produce flexible OLED screens I do not believe we are close to seeing the form factors that tablets will eventually take.

    • Yeats
    • 11 years ago

    It will be interesting to see if this policy holds as the RDF erodes.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 11 years ago

    Don’t forget that Google has just launched its music service and has youtube.com/movies [yes, you can rent movies on youtube] so it has a content ecosystem too — but does not yet make its own tablets — it just gives away its operating system to Acer, Asus, Toshiba, Samsung, etc. Curious to see if a Google-made Nexus tablet will emerge to follow Google’s phone.

    • 5150
    • 11 years ago

    <- Bang a thumbs up if you think touchscreen laptops are worthless.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 11 years ago

    They did and didn’t. They eventually end up selling multiple versions of just about everything at multiple price levels. It doesn’t ever start off that way, though. iPods weren’t as cheap as Shuffles. Last year’s iPhone wasn’t available for $50. They could always introduce, say, a $300-400 tablet, or just keep selling an outdated one for that price.

    What there’s no precedent for them to do is resort to the race to the bottom. Even if they’re cheap and ubiquitous, MP3 players don’t really qualify because if you sell one for $60, you’re still making money, and moving plenty of them. That’s the only thing they didn’t stick to “premium” prices on.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 11 years ago

    [quote<]Apple is in the enviable position of being able to extract profit wherever it wants, although competition from cheaper tablets might put downward pressure on iPad prices.[/quote<] There's no precedent for Apple to lower prices due to competition. They didn't do it with the iPod and it still rules the portable music player market. They didn't do it with the iPhone, either - rather they've just been content to allow older models to hang around.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 11 years ago

    No need. Come Windows 8, laptops will start to come standard with touch screens, and then what defines a tablet will become as vague as netbook vs. ultraportable.

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