As tablets go mainstream, every technology manufacturer is launching a product in the category to capitalise on projected global sales of 215 million units by 2015. This huge potential, highlighted by Wall Street research firm Sanford Bernstein, means manufacturers are now looking to grow the market with converged products that marry the tablet with the notebook or the smartphone.
Processor manufacturer Intel recently announced the Ultrabook, a combination notebook and tablet. This is a new line of mainstream mobile computers that combine performance, responsiveness and security in thin, elegant form factors.
Range of interactivity
Nassir Nauthoa, Intel GM for the GCC, explains, “By the end of 2012, we expect these attributes will spread across a range of systems tailored to meet the needs of a more diverse customer base, with larger screen sizes, more aggressive price points, and the beginning of advanced technologies that support a much wider range of interactivity. Intel aims to shift 40 per cent of consumer laptops to the Ultrabook by the end of 2012. By the 2013 time frame, we anticipate that the market as a whole will have undergone the conversion.”
On the software side, Microsoft has previewed its next version of Windows, internally code-named Windows 8. “As diverse customer usage scenarios arise, we are always working with partners to deliver seamless experiences. Windows 8 is optimised for newer touch-centric hardware, includin g tablets, and work seamlessly across our own platforms such as the smartphone. This is essential as we have a huge ecosystem of hardware partners and need to deliver innovative products to our users,” says Faith Murray, Windows Business Group Lead, Microsoft Gulf.
In April 2010, a technological revolution was launched by Apple with the release of the game-changing iPad. Within the first 80 days, the iPad sold three million units, earning its reputation as the highest selling tablet computer device in the market.
Despite being considered a luxury product, the tablet is better positioned than smartphones to deliver a positive mobile-browsing and shopping experience. It’s portability and ease-of-use indicates why consumers see them as ideal tools for researching and browsing.
As purchasing and usability trends change in the coming future there will be more devices that multi-task compared to ten years back. Manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics, popular for its wide and economical range of mobiles and smartphones, also took first steps into the tablet category by launching the Samsung Galaxy Tab last year.
Ashraf Fawakherji, General Manager-Telecommunications Group at Samsung Gulf Electronics, explains, “When we launched the Samsung Galaxy Tab last year, the response received was overwhelming. We sold one million units within just three months of the launch and the Gulf contributed 10 per cent of the sales. Specifically in the UAE market we have achieved record growth from the Galaxy Tab, mainly because the tablets were catered towards Arabs in the region — fully equipped with Arabic content and Arabic lifestyle applications.”
PC in the pocket
According to Raed Hafez, General Manager for Motorola Mobility, Middle East and Africa, there will be more changes to its product line with the soon-to-be-launched Motorola Atrix. “The Motorola Atrix is a clear example of mobile convergence as it is a smartphone with a dual-core processor designed to give users the power of a PC in their pockets. The webtop application allows users to run their Android applications in a large window, browse websites, send instant messages, check emails and make phone calls.”
The latest to enter the bandwagon is smartphone manufacturer Blackberry with the launch of its tablet device PlayBook, which is touted as the first serious contender to Apple’s iPad.
Tablets, the way forward sub head
PC and notebook manufacturers have also joined the bandwagon by announcing and launching products rivalling those of closest competitor Apple. Technology enthusiasts are awaiting HP’s seven-inch touchpad which could put it in the number two position in the tablet category. The tablet is expected to be launched this month. As tablet PCs beome the ultimate gadget for consumers on the move, stiff competition will continue from all manufacturers. Shipments of this product line are expected to rise more than 238 per cent globally this year, according to research firm iSuppli.
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is an example of a combination between a smartphone and a tablet. The Transformer has set the trend by offering users an optional docking station.
According to Jerry Shen, the Taiwanese company’s CEO, the product is expected to sell 300,000 units this month, following shipments totalling 400,000 in April and May. This puts the device in the number two spot for worldwide tablet shipments, just behind the iPad 2.
Despite this marriage of devices, Shashank Sharma, Country Manager, Packard Bell Middle East and Africa, is of the opinion that these devices will continue to remain separate categories for some time due to current usage patterns. “In my opinion, while there would be continued attempts to incorporate some tablet capabilities in the smartphone and smaller notebooks, the three categories will retain their individuality for some time to come and the convergence might be on the fringes only.”