Tag: 2-in-1

PC sales continue to fall

elepantsCanalys analysts have been playing with their slide rules and worked out that PC sales have fallen 13 percent more than the previous year.

Total global PC shipments, including desktops, laptops, convertibles and tablets comprised 101 million units in the first quarter of 2016. This is the lowest total Canalys has recorded since the second quarter of 2011. Two in Ones did ok with a 13 percent growth but otherwise sales were weak.

Tim Coulling, Senior Analyst at Canalys said that shipments of two-in-ones and detachable tablets are expected to continue to do well in the US and will grow in high income markets.”

But that gear is too expensive to make much of an impact for a while.

“Although other vendors are coming to market with cheaper alternatives, they are unlikely to have a big impact on volumes in the short term.”

Tablet sales fell 15 percent compared to the previous year, Notebook shipments in EMEA plummeted 18 percent.

Canalys considers tablets as PCs.  Apple is the top vendor but not far ahead of Lenovo. Apple saw a fall of 17 percent  amounting to just over 14 million devices. Apple and Lenovo are effectively neck-and-neck which is a sign that any advantage Apple gained by popularising tablets has been lost to people who make the same thing better and cheaper.

All these figures tie to the recent Gartner figures for the first quarter of 2016, which showed a 9.6 percent drop compared to Q1 of 2015, with total shipments falling below 65 million units for the first time since 2007. That figure did not include tablets.

We all knew the market was rubbish but it does not seem like it is pulling out anytime soon.

Hybrid device shipments soar

windows-10-start-menu-customised-live-tilesHybrid devices look set to be the fastest growing segment of the mobile PC market this year.

Gartner is predicting that 21.5 million hybrid devices will ship this year, a rise of 70 percent compared to last year, and accounting for 12 percent of total sales of notebook PCs in 2015.

Of those hybrid devices, eight million are predicted to be ultramobile tablets – that’s “two-in-one” tablets and 13.5 million will be “two-in-one” ad convertible ultramobiles.

But it’s difficult for IT departments to choose hybrid ultramobiles because the PC base predominantly uses Windows 7, and legacy applications don’t use touch. Tracy Tsai, a research director at Gartner, believes this might change when Windows 10 becomes popular in businesses.

The leading vendor supplying hybrid devices is Lenovo, which has 41 percent market share, while Asus and HP are also contenders. But so too is Microsoft, which held a 36 percent market share last year, said Tsai.

Intel hopes for a netbook zombie apocalypse

Five years ago the market was abuzz with talk of cheap netbooks based on Intel’s Atom processors and AMD’s upcoming low-end APUs. Then Steve Jobs took to the stage with the first iPad in tow and the rest is history – netbooks died out faster than any PC form factor in recent history.

However, the basic concept never really went away. Although Intel lost interest in doing cheap netbooks and ultraportables (if it ever had any interest to begin with), AMD stepped up with a couple of cheap APUs. Intel netbooks were killed off, but slightly bigger 11.6-designs are still around, based on AMD and Intel silicon. Google also joined the fun with Chromebooks and they are taking off slowly. 

Netbooks weren’t a bad idea, but neither Intel nor Microsoft seemed too interested in actually coming up with good platforms. There were too many hardware limitations and netbooks never offered anything really new or revolutionary – they were just small, underpowered notebooks. 

Now we’re seeing an interesting trend. Redmond botched the Windows RT rollout and Windows 8 never caught on as a tablet OS. Intel on the other hand is rolling out new Bay Trail chips, with a lot more muscle than Atoms of yesteryear, but with much higher efficiency. Intel is now talking up 2-in-1 designs and other form factors that practically look like the natural extension of netbook evolution.

Asus recently launched a Windows 8.1 tablet with a keyboard dock for just $349. It’s the first such machine – a Windows 8.1 tablet on the cheap, with a proper keyboard to boot, but it’s by no means the last one. New designs from big PC players are on the way and they are bound to be cheap. Several companies have already rolled out 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablets and $299 seems to be the sweet spot, so these hybrid designs should end up priced anywhere from $349 to $449 – cheaper than an iPad, but more expensive than cheap Android tablets. 

Chromebooks are an interesting development, too. Although they lack the x86 legacy appeal of cheap Bay Trail gear, they appear to be selling quite well. Acer, HP and Samsung already have a few designs each and they are going for $249 to $399 – somewhat cheaper than what a full size Bay Trail tablet should cost. Lenovo recently launched the IdeaPad 10, a cheap Android netbook, although we’re not sure it has much mainstream appeal. Gateway launched a 10.1-inch Windows 8 netbook for $329 and the new Asus F102 is also a 10-inch netbook with a €299 price tag, with an AMD APU running the show.

So what’s going on here? 

Well, touchscreens are dirt cheap and so are 10-inch panels, yet Windows 8.1 is becoming a viable OS for cheap ultraportables and tablets, thanks to Intel’s Bay Trail and AMD Jaguar parts. Although netbooks are dead, quasi-netbooks are starting to make sense again, especially for players who did not roll out Chromebooks of their own. Convertible tablets like the Asus T100TA seem to offer the best of both worlds – an ultraportable Windows 8.1 notebook that’s also a tablet on the cheap. It all makes us wonder what would have been had Intel and Microsoft taken netbooks seriously five years ago.

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU, part two

[Part one is here]

Kirk Skaugen, senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel took over in the second half of Wednesday’s IDF Keynote presentation. He began talking about the “2 in 1” computing platform. That raises the question: Have Ultrabooks slipped off Intel’s road map just when HP is announcing its HP ZBook 14 Ultra Workstation?

Kirk Skaugen


Perhaps they are simply not selling in the volume predicted at a couple past IDFs when Ultrabooks were announced? Skaugen put it this way: “Now we’ve stopped counting [OEM designs], and assumed that the entire world has gone thin”. He added that more than 40 percent of all Core notebooks have been designed with touch. Seventy percent of today’s Ultrabooks are touch-enabled, on the way to 100 percent touch later this year.

Skaugen said by this year’s holidays, the 2-in-1 form factor will be selling in the $999 down to $349 price range. He said that by the year’s end, there will be 60 2-in-1 devices in that future marketplace. Examples he showed were the Sony Duo 13-inch slider, the Dell XP 11, the Sony detachable – which only weighs 780 grams and handles both wired and wireless, and the Dell XP 12, which is a flip screen. An application from CyberLink will be provided on Haswell machines by the end of the year to energise content creation.

Skaugen handed over to Tami Reeler, Microsoft VP who discussed the Windows 8.1 released to developers. There was the usual sales story about how wonderful Windows 8 is.

In August, Windows 8 had the highest demand and sales, which was probably prompted by the back to school movement. She discussed Windows XP and its end of support in April 2014. She also claimed that “three quarters of the corporate users have moved to a modern Windows from Windows XP” – but she didn’t specify whether they were using Windows 7 or Windows 8.x.

Tami Reeler talks Windows 8 with Kirk Skaugen

Intel says that it has the business community handled with fourth generation core CPUs, SST Pro 1500 SSD, location-based security in the enterprise, and its new Pro-WiDI plus password free VPN connections – which got a round of applause from the audience.

Mario Müller, VP of IT Infrastructure at BMW, was next to join Kirk Skaugen on stage. There was some banter about a new BMW for everybody in the audience. Müller said that 55,000 of its 120,000 employees will be getting core i5 computers, but none of the audience will be receiving a BMW, unfortunately.

Mario Müller and Kirk Skaugen discussing new BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car 

Skaugen returned to topic saying that Bay Trail has 140 design wins and it runs all operating systems faster – Android, iOS, Chrome, and Linux. He talked about the Cinnabar benchmark using the fourth generation Broadwell 14 nm CPU. The chips will include AVX 3.2, DDR4 and PCI Express 4.0 support among their improved feature set.

Bay Trail SoCs are aimed at tablets and convertibles with screen sizes priced at $599 or below and will ship in tablets running Windows 8 and Android, ranging down to below $100 in price. When Chinese tablet OEMs start selling $100 price point 7-inch tablets with Bay Trail inside, then Intel will have to be taken very seriously by the ARM and MIPS partners.

Sony Duo slider as a tablet 

The discussions turned towards 3D. By Q2 2014, Intel predicts there will be collaboration over a 3D camera specification that will be implemented into Ultrabooks. We were told that Intel has had high numbers of downloads for its 3D SDK. It has the $100,000,000 Experience  and the Perceptual Computing Fund to work with.

Skaugen showed a 2D/3D camera that fits into the bezel of an Ultrabook. He gave an example of 3D functionality with a video showing children playing with an Ultrabook which had a 3D camera installed. Their expressions were of surprised joy.

3D developers should be glad to know that Project Anarchy is a free 3D game production engine and is ready to be downloaded and used.

Gonzague de Vallois, VP Sales and Marketing for Gameloft, showed off the company’s latest Android 3D auto racing game, referred to as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which takes advantage of Bay Trail and 3D graphics. At $4.99 it’s pretty affordable.

Gameloft’s Asphalt 8, for Android

Sundar Pichai, Senior VP Android Chrome & Apps at Google talked about the just-introduced Haswell CPU Chromebook and its stunning performance, extended battery life, and 3D capabilities. He also presented Doug Fisher from Intel’s Software and Services Group with an official Google Beanie cap – what a new hire at Google wears for their first days. After Pichai left the stage, Fisher said something about ‘that is a give away’.

Sundar Pichai gives Doug Fisher a Google Beanie

Over 1,000 Intel engineers are working on Google Android and Chrome.

Research firm NPD says Chromebooks represent 20-25 percent of the $300-or-less computer segment. Clearly, Intel has embraced Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems as a target market to put a lot of “Intel Inside”. 

ODMs pushing convertible notebooks

Taiwanese ODMs are reportedly persuading brand vendors to sign up for new 2-in-1 convertible designs, which are Microsoft’s and Intel’s latest attempt to halt the Android onslaught. Unlike Ultrabooks, 2-in-1 convertibles should feature sexier form factors and they could go after high-end tablets.

However, notebook peddlers might need a bit more convincing before they take the bait. Although convertibles should be straightforward to produce they will still end up pricier than high-end tablets. Based on Intel x86 chips and Windows 8, they simply need more silicon and battery capacity to run properly. In addition, consumers don’t appear to be too interested in first generation designs, which might be the biggest problem with the push.

Wistron chairman Simon Lin said technology is not an issue, but the real challenge is coming up with designs that meet consumer demand, Digitimes reports. This might prove a lot more challenging than actually designing and building the next generation of 2-in-1 convertibles.

Convertibles are supposed to feature the best of both worlds, but at the moment they simply don’t. They fall short on a number of fronts. In terms of productivity they are trumped by 13-inch and bigger notebooks, but at the same time they are bulkier and more expensive than tablets. The technology might be there, but that doesn’t mean there is much of a market for such devices.

In any case it seems the ODMs, or Intel and Redmond for that matter, have nothing better to offer so we’ll see some on the market whether we like it or not, despite the fact that the industry itself doesn’t seem convinced the push will work. Then again, the PC industry ran out of good ideas a long time ago, so who can blame them for trying.