Tag: hybrids

Intel promises more cheap tablets and hybrids. Again

Intel-logoIntel’s new CEO Brian Krzanich is at it again. He is promising $99 tablets, along with $299 Haswell laptops, $349 2-in-1 hybrids and $299 Bay Trail clamshells. The prices aren’t exactly new – Krzanich talked about $99 tablets back at IDF 2013.

In the meantime the first Bay Trail products have started to appear, although they are not widely available yet. Early benchmarks found that Bay Trail tablets were roughly on a par with the latest ARM SoCs from Nvidia and Qualcomm. The bad news is that Intel’s chips are manufactured using a superior process (22nm vs. 28nm) and that they cost a bit more than ARM chips. Intel’s official prices for Bay Trail-T SoCs are $32 to $37, while high-end ARM chips are estimated to cost $20 to $28.

With that in mind, it is obvious that Intel doesn’t stand to make much cash on $99 tablets, which don’t exactly have much room for Intel’s traditionally high margins. The price points for hybrids and laptops are more realistic, but demand for Windows hybrids has yet to materialise.

That is a bigger problem than actual hardware. Intel’s new x86 SoCs have what it takes both in terms of performance and efficiency, but they are going after a limited market that simply isn’t there, at least not yet. Aggressive pricing should help, but Krzanich stated that the price cuts should also involve OEMs and ODMs.

This will be a bitter pill to swallow for many of them, as they are already struggling to make ends meet in a slow PC market. They would effectively have to give up some of their margins to hit Intel’s price points and at the same time they could cannibalize their own product lines.

This is where the failure of Windows RT and the lacklustre market performance of Windows 8 tablets could back come to haunt Intel. While PC makers were waiting for competitive x86 parts to stick in their hybrids and tablets, most of them decided to roll out ARM-based products with Android, dropping RT in the process and limiting Redmond’s footprint on the tablet market. For example, Asus, Lenovo and HP are already selling Android hybrids. Lenovo even introduced its first Android IdeaPad laptop a few days ago and it should sell for less than 200 pounds.

The only thing Intel has going for it in this segment is x86 support, i.e. the ability to run Windows 8 and offer hybrids that can use the wide range of Windows productivity apps. However, vendors appear to be focusing on higher performance Haswell tablets for Windows 8, which can’t come close to the $299 mark for a variety of reasons.


Lenovo aims to topple HP by 2015

lenovo-logoLenovo has been going from strength to strength in recent months and now it has Hewlett Packard in its crosshairs. Lenovo believes there’s plenty of room for expansion in EMEA, in spite of Europe’s economic woes and Syria’s feeble attempts to become the Archduke Ferdinand of World War III.

Speaking at IFA 2013, Lenovo’s EMEA president Gianfranco Lanci said the company’s ultimate goal is to become number one in the region within the next 18 months. He added that there are still big growth opportunities on PCs and there’s still room to grow.

Meanwhile, HP is losing market share to Lenovo, while Lenovo has already overtaken Acer in EMEA. Lenovo’s PC business is doing surprisingly well at a time when many other PC vendors are faltering on all levels. In addition, Lenovo’s smartphone push is paying off nicely in Asia and next year it could bring its Android terracotta army to Europe and North America. Lenovo is also becoming a big name in Android tablets, but so far Android tablets have failed to match the success of their smartphone siblings.

“The investment needed in the smartphone and tablet businesses is much more than what you need in PCs – this is why we will see more consolidation,” Lanci said.

He argued that scale is necessary to successfully compete in the smartphone market and with skyrocketing phone shipments in China, Lenovo shouldn’t have much trouble with scale.

Lanci added that all three Lenovo divisions are making money, but the PC division is still generating higher margins as PCs don’t require nearly as much investment as smartphones and tablets. It may be interesting to note that Lenovo is making some rather interesting moves on the hybrid front as well. As hybrids and tablets converge, Lenovo will end up in a much better position than some competitors without a viable tablet/hybrid strategy. Provided all goes well, of course.

Big G sees more gloom for PC churners

pc-sales-slumpThe PC slump is set to continue, while tablet sales will remain strong well into the future, according to fresh data from Gartner.

Sales of traditional PCs are expected to hit just 305 million units this year, down 10.6 percent from last year. Things might be a bit better in 2014, but Gartner is still forecasting a 5 percent decline.

Even if non-traditional form factors, such as Chromebooks, hybrids and skinny clamshells are added to the PC figures, we’re still looking at a 7.3 percent decline this year.

Meanwhile tablets are still going strong. Tablet shipments are expected to reach 202 million units this year, up from 120 million in 2012. In 2014 tablet shipments should hit 276 million units. Mobiles are growing as well, but not at the same insane pace. Smartphone shipments are expected to grow by about 4.3 percent, with a volume of more than 1.8 billion units in 2012.

As far as non-traditional ultramobiles go, Gartner believes shipments will double this year, hitting 20 million units. Next year they should double again, to 40 million units, but even that won’t be enough to offset the slump across the rest of the PC market.

Demand for tablets and ultramobiles could be propped up by BYOD. Gartner believes that 72 percent of personal computing devices will used in the workplace by 2017 thanks to the new trend, which is already causing plenty of headaches in IT departments across the globe.

However, tablets might be about to run out of steam, as they are maturing fast and demand for high-end gear is evaporating.

“The increased availability of lower priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer. We will also see consumer preferences split between basic tablets and ultramobile devices,” said Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal.

Interestingly, the combined share of Apple OS devices might overtake Microsoft’s OS share by 2015. Around 296 million Apple devices will ship this year compared to 339 million Windows devices. However, Android will outpace Apple and Microsoft combined, with shipments hitting 866 million units this year and passing the one billion mark next year.