Wintel alliance continues to flounder over Tablets


Bloomberg not only claims that Apple is still locked in a deadly battle between Microsoft and Intel, but has come up with the surprise announcement that it is winning.

The Apple versus Microsoft battle is long over, but it is still used by dedicated followers of Apple to tar anyone who disagrees that Apple makes the perfect machine. If you don’t believe that Apple is a cure for cancer then you must be pro-Wintel, even if there are lots of different options these days.

Such an argument ignores the fact that Apple’s only real victories have come in the mobile market, where Microsoft has a limited presence and indeed has had to ally with Intel’s sworn enema ARM, to get any presence at all.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft released an ARM based Surface tablet to mixed reviews. It has not done that badly, but it has not replaced the iPad either. Intel, by all accounts, is slowly pushing into the mobile market, and should be a little more significant by this time next year.

Despite that, a victory has been declared to Apple. Microsoft and Intel have apparently failed to combat Apple’s iPad in the $63.2 billion tablet market.

The argument is that out of a dozen tablets Microsoft and Intel touted for the new version of Windows, only five can be purchased for immediate US delivery.

Bloomberg quotes Craig Berger, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets saying that Surface tablet sales seem “disappointing.”

But Berger does not seem to suggest that it is all because Apple is superior. He makes the point that computer makers have been hampered in introducing tablets by limits Microsoft imposed on which manufacturers got a crack at prototypes, and by delays in Intel power-management software.

What he is talking about is not that the Wintel tablets are terrible, but there are not many of them out in the shops effectively a few weeks after launch. Given that Apple faces the same problems with its smaller tablets, this is not really a victory for Cupertino.

IDC’s Bob O’Donnell is also quoted as saying even if you wanted to buy a Surface, it would be difficult.

Going into Christmas there are only a few Windows tablets. There is the Surface, Asustek’s Vivo Tab RT and Lenovo’s s IdeaPad Yoga. These run the fairly lacklustre RT version of Windows. Samsung has its ATIV Smart PC and Acer’s Iconia runs Windows 8, and rely on Intel chips.

Two of them you can only find in Microsoft’s own stores and there are only 60 of these across the world.

Bloomberg fails to mention the fact that the main rival to Microsoft and Intel in the mobile market is not Apple but Google’s Android. While Apple has 57 percent of the market in the period, devices based on Google’s Android mobile operating system had 41 percent.

Instead it makes merry of Microsoft’s 1.6 percent of the global market figure as if that is a bad thing. Given that Vole has been out of the tablet market and only released some for it in the last few weeks, 1.6 per cent is not that bad, and writing off Microsoft or Intel during the opening rounds in any war is always a mistake.