The “I’m a PC Too” Age
The “I’m a PC Too” Age
Are tablet computers going to take over the world? It’s clear that tablet computers are moving into all areas – taking the place of laptops on the one hand, and that of large smartphones on the other. Indeed, as we saw at the last exhibition in Barcelona, the boundaries between Phablets and tablets that allow phone calls have become blurred.
In order to fight back against tablet computers, which are eating into the market for traditional laptop computers – those with a screen and a keyboard – some years ago Intel launched, at the Computax computer exhibition, the Ultrabook.
The Ultrabook is a basically a laptop by a different name. Actually, the term “ultrabook” refers to a kind of standard, based on defined characteristics and dimensions. If manufacturers meet these standards, then they can market a laptop as an “ultrabook,” and enjoy a measure of marketing support from Intel. But Intel’s efforts appear to have not been successful, and have not prevented a fall in laptop sales.
This year, at Computax 2013, Intel presented an updated vision of the company at the forefront of tablets and smartphones. Intel is proceeding with the development of its Silvermont architecture, which will reportedly serve the company for the production of processors for the whole range of its products for the portable market: Atom, Celeron and Pentium. Thus, the company appears to be changing direction in its foray into the mobile market.
The configurational innovation presented by Intel is the Ultrabook convertible: a hybrid portable computer, with a swiveling, folding, detachable screen, which makes the computer function both as a laptop – when a keyboard is attached – and as a tablet, when used without it. Here, Intel is attempting to attacks the market segment of those who are wavering between a laptop and a tablet: “Why waver when you can enjoy both worlds in a single device,” as Intel would have it.
One company that has taken Intel’s vision to the limit is Asus, which announced its Trio, a laptop with a detachable screen, that can serve as a tablet, and which runs both Windows and Android operating systems, an interesting combination that we had already seen some years ago in laptops – but this time more mature, with the advances in touch screens (and in Android itself, which at that time was not yet a mature system).
On the software side, too, there were innovations at the major computer exhibition in Taipei. It was Acer which took Windows 8 to a new level, with their W3: the first Windows 8 tablet with an 8-inch screen, running the Microsoft operating system in its Pro version, and coming with Office software, and a price tag of only 1400 shekels. The concept is interesting: to turn the small – personal – tablets, known better as devices for content consumption, into working computers, with the possibility of attaching a keyboard for text entry tasks.
While Apple are talking about the “Post-PC” age, and have already proclaimed the (premature) death of the personal computer, the company that built itself on personal computers – Intel – has to get used to the presence of a new competitor, the tablet. From their point of view, it is the era of “I’m a PC too.”