Do You See the PC Opportunity in the Growing Tablet Space?

Updated on 03 January 2014 by

Toshoba Portege Z10T _3_I read a few IDC new releases today. The PC outlook is bad. The Tablet outlook is good.

Take another look though, ignore some of the news articles riding on the back of the headline PR and you’ll see something interesting. Firstly there’s no obvious consideration of PC evolution into the tablet market. Secondly, there’s a huge opportunity opening up in the 8-13 inch segment. As tablet users start to prefer those smaller, cheaper tablet devices, more value and capability is needed in the larger screen segment.

One could argue that the 8-10 inch tablet segment was always wrong. Given the battery, CPU, heat requirements and a rather skewed market tendency towards large because Apple said so, it’s no wonder that big was perceived to be better but now that you can pick up a fast 7-inch Android tablet for $200 all the others seem expensive, bulky and, to be honest, stupid in comparison.

There’s a space in the market developing here for PCs to drop into very smoothly. It’s a space that demands a higher price and more value. It’s a space that many thought would be served by productive apps on tablets with Bluetooth keyboards but for the average user that just hasn’t happened. The hybrid, transformer, dockable-style PC is perfect for this segment.

Price issues, battery life issues, sizing issues and operating system issues have been all-but solved. In the next generation of Connected-Standby-capable BayTrail or Haswell tablets you’ll be looking at a dynamic range that surpasses everything in the market. A removable tablet that offers a touch user interface and a long battery life that can dock and offer desktop-level performance is exactly the type of device that fits into the 8-13 inch segment. There’s little space for a device that costs twice as much as a 7 inch tablet but doesn’t offer anything new. The 9-10 inch Android and IOS tablets are vulnerable.

Take the technology one step further and you’ll see and even bigger opportunity.

Ever used a 13 inch tablet that weighs under 1lb? Try it. Grab an average sized magazine. In that space you can fit a 13 inch screen. Add the motherboard, battery and connectors and you get 1.2lbs. Remove the motherboard and add a low-latency  wireless display module a-la WiGig and you get a super-light screen. The motherboard, storage, battery, Wi-Fi, heat and bulk are all retained in a base-unit. This design is the natural successor to the ‘CPU-behind-screen’ designs we have today and PCs are the perfect platform for this. Why? They exclusively offer the dynamic range of processing and operating system that would be attractive to a user and with 7 inch tablets costing very little, there’s scope for that screen and base-unit to come within a users 2-year budget.

Android and IOS fit a huge market of consumers. They allow those users to do 80-90% of what they need on a PC but it still leaves 10-20% of tasks that can’t be done efficiently. Attempts to solve that problem have largely failed because users want cheap and small and the economics don’t align for manufacturers or developers. It leaves that space for an advanced HDR computing device.

The next gen large-screen tablet could be based on Android or IOS as it evolves but it is more likely to be based on a PC mainboard and Windows 8 because that’s the platform that’s ready for a new set of user requirements.

IDC predicts that 43% of tablets will be in this large-tablet range in 2017, down from 73% in 2011 but with the rising market, that means, according to IDC, that there’s a potential 172 million tablet PC opportunity there in 2017. If Microsoft and Intel work towards that goal with the manufacturers there’s potential for the Portable PC market to grow considerably. Price is critical in order to grab the opportunity quickly, a stylish showcase product is needed too but my prediction is that we’ll see some pretty exciting developments during Computex next week that will give weight to the scenario I’ve outlined here.

11 Comments For This Post

  1. meengla yip says:

    A few days ago I went to a corporate meeting and my boss saw my Acer W510 (with the keyboard dock) and was immediately floored by it and complained about lack of options in iOS. She is going to buy one from Amazon soon.

  2. Abilistie says:

    “The 9-10” Android and IOS tablets are vulnerable.”

    So what makes you think W8 Metro is going to be able to topple them? Unless you are speaking about the W8 desktop which is highly debatable if it should even be on a tablet.

    By the time MS gets Metro where it needs to be whats saying Android/iOS won’t already be there? MS is STILL playing catchup in the app/developer support arena while Android/iOS have already been enjoying enormous support for years. MS can’t even get their own Metro apps updated with any kind of regularity at all. Hell, MS hasn’t even finished the Metro UI yet. Listen to Paul Thurrot, he is constantly bitching about why is MS taking so long. I use Windows everyday but many of us have just already moved on to something else for our vertical needs.

    Theres a really good chance by the time MS even gets to where Google/Apple where years ago that both of them might have already moved on to wearable computing as a subset computing environment moving forward (like phones/tablets are to PC’s).

  3. James says:

    Problem with Android and iOS is they’re mobile OS by design and that means they were design with intentional limitations!

    A desktop OS isn’t designed with those limitations and thus there’s a lot more potential as to what you can do on a system running a desktop OS than there is one running a mobile OS.

    So it’s not like Android and iOS don’t have their own catching up to do and it will require major changes to them before they can be used for much more than they are now!

    Really, it took years for Android to get to where it is now! Just the switch from phone centric to tablet took years and even now most apps are made for phones and not tablets!

    So anyone complaining about time doesn’t really know what they’re talking about!

    And no UI is ever finished! It’s something that develops over time and keeps on changing over time! The only time a OS is finished is when they stop working on it and go on to another OS!

    Software, just like hardware, is always evolving!

    While the appeal for Windows 8, despite its growing/development pains, is that it can allow people to use the same OS over a wider range of devices and usage scenarios and presently there is no other similar solution!

  4. ArchiMark says:

    Agree that there’s still potential for the PC market….if companies have the right product at the right price point given quality, design, specs, etc….don’t mean it has to be really cheap price (although wouldn’t mind…), but understand that realistically, good quality products usually come at a price…

    As for Android….count me out….think it’s a very limited OS and find the tie-in with Google a concern along with the permissions that most apps have if you want to install them…

    I still prefer Windows, OSX, and linux distros over things like Android….

    Just my 2¢…..YMMV…..


  5. Abilistie says:

    I’ve loved all you guys since the UMPC days but it’s so evident how most of you are still stuck in the past. It’s also evident who actually uses multiple OS’s & who just uses Windows. Android is lightyears beyond Metro in functionality & flexibility, it’s not even close.

    Apples & oranges. You all are comparing Android to the W8 desktop UI which will NEVER be acceptable in tablets going forward (making your opinions moot), why do you think MS is phasing the desktop out?

    Look at the world around you guys, the Windows desktop, Mac, Linux are simply becoming irrelevant in the consumer space. This trend is never going to reverse & will continue to accelerate. All the focus these days is being put on Android/iOS. I give MS credit for acknowledging & attempting to move forward with Metro, but until they can prove Metro is more robust than Android it will continue to be a distant 3rd place. Just ask yourself, where are all the developers moving to these days? It’s not the Windows desktop anymore, so many of my programs dont have been abandoned, it’s like a ghosttown. Only the big companies are still supportive i.e. Google with Chrome. That’s because all of the indie developers have moved onto Android, iOS, & hopefully Metro.

    This situation actually reminds me alot of console gamers, Republicans, etc, they know they are becoming irrelevant but just refuse to accept it. The WiiU is already dead, the PS4 focus is stuck in the past, at least MS is trying to look forward with the X-Box One. If you still believe in the Windows desktop & Intel going forward, then you’re already dead & don’t even know it.

  6. timon says:

    if you wanted play and not more, —- there are cheap Android tablets, or iPad. The Android tablets are always with cheaper price and flooding around.

    Windows ought to give full scope to work its territories.

    don’t mean that the W8 tablets ought to topple Android tablets, it is impossible, they live in between different spaces. The world have bikes, in market the cars and motorcycles impossible to topple down bikes. However, car and motorcycle are needed for people, maybe you already had bike.

    Currently, the Windows 8 is no adequate active in tablet market, therein the problem in half actually showed from Intel Atom z2760.

    The Atom z2760 tablets are more like bad bikes, but is not motorcycle good-enough. The price is much higher but performance is bad enough. The Atom performance is merely slight faster than the ARM, — it is far non-enough, it runs the heavy-duty Windows 8 OS and loads work task, fully unlike in lightweight Android OS and plays.

    All the current Atom z2760 tablets do not support SATA SSD, that are with very slow eMMC SSD only, any brand.
    Not only the eMMC is very slow, and is also much shorter MTBF than the SATA SSD. The eMMC the most benefit is fewer of manufacturing costs.

    Kodak corp have ever had a lot of advanced digital image technologies, however Kodak only tried to keep their film profit margin during faced to the raging waves of digital image market, and went to the opposite direction. Sorry, people have seen Kodak finally speeded up died at himself.
    Today, could it be Kodak ghost would replay to Intel?

    The recent AMD APU Temash processor in the future Win8 tablet will show the real highlights at next of months even years, maybe Intel to get real headache thing started coming.

  7. animatio says:

    timon made the point clear. and as long as MS and the pc producing industry ignores and even denies this (they have been told for almost 20 years now by power users) i stick by my last generation netbooks for they do their job and more .. and good after all. and btw i have my collection of programss needed for every aspect of my daily work, there is no need for a thouthend’st lausy version/copy of the same stuff. in the windows, mac, linux world these things are present and outriped for a lomg time now. look at android or ios in comparison. ten thousends of apps in store, but no HEAVY WORKHORSES for money generating daily professional business. not even a single MS office compatible offise suite …..

  8. animatio says:

    just to add this – the toshiba libretto 100 model was on a right way and in the end also priceworthy at 400.- eur.

  9. meengla yip says:

    Maybe someday we want to temper the enthusiasm for the ‘app’ count as a major criteria for a platform’s success. I’d prefer to have a robust web browser which supports Java, ActiveX, Flash, DivX/Chrome etc plugins to do the needed, all in one window, then to hunt for an ‘app’ for those things–which leads to sort of broken ‘experience’.

  10. D T says:

    Sure one market (mobile and tablet, so may be 2 actually) is eating into another market (traditional PCs, desktops and laptops, so may be 2 actually), but it’s like laptop market eating into desktop market just not that many years ago also; or PCs eating into mini computer markets some distance ago, and mini computers eating into mainframe computers eons ago.

    So if you understand the case about mini and mainframe, you would also understand the trend about today’s mobile platform and desktop platform. As for the argument that 20% of tasks cannot be done w/ the mobile platform, it is the same argument that there are lots of things you cannot do with desktops that you can only do with mini and mainframe (but in today’s world, it is probably very inconsequential now).

    Right now, the change is not very fast, so it’s not a sudden drop of something. If you need to do CAD, or Photoshop, or serious video editing (AVID, Premiere, etc), or whatever more serious stuff, you need a real computer and to that, one would mean a desktop platform (or a strong laptop). But so what? The average joe doesn’t need this and don’t even care. To them, high end stuff means Office apps, and if they can get 50% of features working on mobile equivalent, they will not even touch a desktop, but today’s mobile office apps don’t get 50% yet, may be at 20%, so people still need a PC (if not doing remote control method) to do those office tasks.

    On the contrary, I have used so many Windows mobile and tablet devices, and I am tired of the constant slow boot time, slow reboot time, Windows update interruption, anti-virus downloading of definition files and scanning of your HDD, which are all unbearable interruptions if you are using it in a quicky mobile situation. And that’s why it is so stupid to use Windows in these “time critical” user experiences. (that Microsoft loved to use the word, “experience”).

    I read the user reports about these so called “fast devices” so I bought them, and none of them were true: top end Windows MObile device: HTC Advantage ($1,500. at launch, $1000. when I bought mine); Samsung Q1 etc.

    Now my recent Toshiba Z930 Ultrabook is fast, but that is not a UMPC nor a Tablet.

    The Viewsonic Smart Display is so stupid that it can only do so little but cost so much, although I bought mine during clearance so it only cost me $300. (not including the docking I bought later).

    Ease of use is a main thing for the mass market. Those stats reflect the mass market. UMPCportal caters to a niche group of enthusiasts, they don’t represent the mass market, but instead are tech experts and geeks, who don’t mind tweaking and tinkering and knows how to get around Windows in a 4.8″ screen, which scared most people away. So in other words, people who use Windows in a 4.8″ screen is not normal. And that’s why the two Korean companies all went down, unfortunately.

    I still own my BenQ S6. It is indeed slow no matter how hard I tweak it (stripped down XP, this and that). But it is cute and a novelty, but that’s about it.

  11. MD says:

    After I first got my Acer A500 and used it with a USB mouse or keyboard, I was all aboard the tablet/docking station replacing the PC concept.

    I love the Android experience when used with a mouse and/or keyboard. I almost ran out to get a Motorola Atrix!

    I had the chance to play with a Chromebook, and immediately decided that it would be 100% better if it was running Android instead of ChromeOS.

    After many disappointments with Win8 on a traditional laptop (and desktop), I finally broke down and purchased a Lenovo Lynx with docking keyboard. As much as I enjoy a touch oriented OS, I still prefer a keyboard for heavy typing usage (emails and such).

    I will say that I still do not enjoy the Win8 experience as much as I do Android. Win8 still feels clunky. A good portion of my pre-loaded apps on the Lynx do not work (Accuweather), and the rest I find unnecessary (eBay).

    I am disappointed in some of the functionality that still feels archaic. Launching calculator on the Lynx results in a tiny window that is almost impossible to read – you cannot resize the window, and the keys are so small you need to launch the keyboard function to use the keys…..which results in a numeric keyboard layout that is the exact opposite of an actual keyboard layout (1,2,3 are on top). On top of that, I’ve found that several times my touchscreen stops working (usually after having been in the keyboard dock) and I have to reboot the tablet to make it work again.

    It is the little things that are implemented better in Android (and I suppose iOS) that make Windows feel clunkier and clunkier. Not to mention that Microsoft has made their OS so inefficient that just about half of the 64Gb in the Lynx is already used (as of today I have not installed any Win8 apps) My A500 is only 16Gb and I still have over half of that available, and that is after installing many games and apps.

    I do agree with Microsoft’s recent marketing about unifying the experience across multiple devices (PC, tablet, phone), but unfortunately for them I find myself dreaming of an Android based desktop.

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