Touch gambit won’t pay off for Microsoft, Intel

tablet-POS-cash-registerFor months we’ve been hearing talk of new and exciting Windows 8.x devices, with touchscreens and exciting new form factors. Now that they are slowly starting to appear, it seems that the optimism was unfounded, and that’s putting it mildly.

Although some industry leaders like Acer’s Jim Wong said touch enabled notebooks would make up about 30 to 35 percent of all shipments, IDC believes the actual figure will much lower.

“We forecast that 17 percent to 18 percent of all notebooks would have touch this year,” IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell said in a recent interview. “But that now looks to be too high, to be honest.”

O’Donnell said IDC would probably slash its estimates to between 10 percent and 15 percent of touch-enabled notebooks. NPD DisplaySearch puts the number at just 12 percent, reports Computer World.

This is very bad news for Microsoft and Intel. Users simply don’t appear to be interested in touchbooks and to be honest they shouldn’t be. Simply slapping a touchscreen on a computer with Microsoft’s user interface doesn’t transform it into an appealing tablet. Microsoft gambled on touch support in its radical UI interface in Windows 8 and the gamble didn’t pay off. Traditionalists used to the old Windows 7 layout and the Start button hated it. At the same time it didn’t manage to attract the tablet crowd.

Cost is another problem. Touch-enabled notebooks are still relatively expensive and O’Donnell believes the prices aren’t falling fast enough, as they are still in the $699 to $799 range. In other words customers are being asked to say yes to a massive premium for something they essentially don’t need and don’t really want.

O’Donnell believes it’s time for Microsoft to recognize that touchscreens don’t have the Midas touch they won’t help sell notebooks. He stressed that Microsoft has to make sure that Windows 8.x works well in a non-touch environment, as ninety percent of PCs sold this year simply won’t have touch support.