Hardly any touch screen PCs are being bought, so the world is breaking into a small number of successes: growing number of touch-oriented smartphones and tablets, stable numbers of keyboard + touchpad laptops, and a falling number of keyboard + mouse desktops. Strangely, PC manufacturers continue to over estimate people’s desire for oddball hybrids and touch laptops.
from the article
Acer and Asustek this week said touchscreen laptops championed by Microsoft Corp. haven’t made as a big a splash with consumers as previously estimated.
"Our first wave of Vivobooks was not a success," said Asustek CEO Jerry Shen at an investor conference Friday, referring to the company’s line of touch notebooks. "We are working very closely with Microsoft and Intelin an effort develop game-changing devices to launch in September.”
Mr. Shen said Asustek also plans to “attack” the nontouch notebook segment in coming months, as many customers still aren’t willing to pay extra for a touchscreen.
Acer and Asustek have pushed heavily into the low-cost tablet market this year to try to counteract the consumer preference shift away from laptops, but so far it isn’t clear whether sales of their Android tablets, which sell for less than $200, can offset the sales decline of more-expensive laptops.
Acer Chairman J.T. Wang said the company is shifting its product mix away from the traditional Windows system “as soon as possible,” with its percentage of devices running Google Inc.’s Android or Chrome operating systems to grow from about 10% this year to as much as 30% next year.
Asustek, which sells under the brand Asus, had up until this spring managed a better performance than many PC industry peers, partly because of a partnership with Google to make the popular Nexus 7 tablet. The sales helped boost Asustek ahead of Kindle-maker Amazon.com to become the No. 3 tablet maker behind Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.
But even with the success of the Nexus 7, Asustek is now struggling. After the release of the second-generation Nexus tablet, Asustek was hit by a crush of inventory of the first generation, as well as poorer-than-expected sales of Windows RT tablets, analysts said. Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 geared to work with ARM mobile-device processors.
Touchscreen laptops, which PC makers initially saw as their defense against threat from the mobile advance, haven’t taken off.
I expect that we’ll see a huge surge in Android and Chrome laptops, and the near-term collapse of Windows. It will be Apple OS X and iOS v Google Chrome and Android, and maybe Ubuntu as a distant third, starting with smartphones.
Morris gives a quick summary of some Android ‘desktop’ machines — mostly tablets that can dock with a keyboard, like HP’s Slate 21, various Acer products, and Samsung’s ATIV Q — but misses the point completely, sounding almost apologetic for suggesting these things might have utility.
I’ll go strongly in the opposite direction. Windows is (nearly) dead, especially on smartphones and tablets. Android will soon be the largest OS in the world. Inevitably, Android will become the largest player in the shrinking laptop/desktop market. Mac OS X and Android are the one-two punch for Windows, and that includes the desktop/laptop market, too.
There isn’t anybody on earth that’s going to want to hold a tablet to their ear. - Matt Burns, You’re Funny, Huawei
I am betting that this will become the norm, actually. Or doing the equivalent through earphones, which will rapidly be wireless and unobtrusive. Google Glass is the new glowing blue bluetooth earplug, perhaps, but talking into a 7 or 9 inch tablet won’t be odd in 2014. For many, these tablets will become their proximals: the devices they always have within reach.
A new term: line-busting, which is the new retail tactic to get store associates to take orders and/or collect payments for goods anywhere on the store floor, using handheld wireless devices, like iPads. This gets the associates out from behind the cash registers and counters, and obsoletes that fixed mode of interaction, making the shopping experience very different. It also can decrease the wait time involved in waiting to order or pay, and therefore decreases the likelihood of abandoned purchases by frustrated shoppers.
Also note that these tablets can be used to show merchandise not physically in the store, and allow shoppers to buy those goods and have them delivered to their homes.
The blendo experience of talking with an associate and having them show both immediately available and remote goods is an interesting blurring of online and IRL shopping, and one made social through the device and shopping software.
[PS I couldn’t find the definition in Wikipedia, so I wrote it here.]
Jean Louis Gassee, The Next Big Thing: Big Missing Pieces
At the close of 2012, market intelligence firm ABI Research estimates nearly 200 million tablets will have shipped worldwide since 2009 and an additional 1 billion tablets are forecasted to ship over the next 5 years.
That’s 200 million tablets per year for the next five, which is the number that have sold to date.
It’s hard to minimize the impact of this transition. Tablets are proximal devices, like smartphones and to a lesser extent the ultralight laptops (like my Air). These are devices that we carry around with us, always within reach, the first recourse when we need to catch up, look up, or pay up. Desktop PCs seem as distant in use patterns as going to the library: the desktop PC is upstairs, or in another room. Once you buy a tablet, the desktop’s gathering dust, and then a year later you donate it to a charity to get the space back on your desk.
In less than five years, individual ownership of desktop devices will fall to near zero, and even niches like gaming and video production will transition to tablets.
The impacts of this transition will be profound. One implication: as more people transition to tablets with built-in data connectivity and as phone companies roll out more capable wireless solutions, we will start to see a turning away from cable to the home: not just for TV, but for internet. People will always have their connectivity with them. And instead of a cable bringing internet to your living room, users will wirelessly stream TV, video, and movies from their tablets to the display on the wall.
Notably, the cable companies seem oblivious to this transition, and I’m not even certain how many of the tablet manufacturers see it.
PaperTab: Revolutionary paper tablet reveals future tablets to be thin and flexible as paper. (by Plastic Logic humanmedialab)
Fascinating to see bending the paper used to scroll, and touching papers to exchange information.
Barnes & Noble has risked a lot on Nook, and it’s not panning out. In fact, it’s hard to see how they can stem the fall of the retail giant.
Barnes & Noble Faces Steep Challenge as Holiday Nook Sales Decline - Leslie Kaufman
The results, covering a period that ended Dec. 29, are a sobering development for the nation’s largest bookstore chain. The declines occurred during what is supposed to be peak buying season. And the Nook unit’s sagging fortunes came despite a 13 percent increase in sales of digital content, suggesting that it is the tepid demand for Nook devices that is dragging down the unit’s performance.
Barnes & Noble has invested heavily in developing a tablet that can compete with offerings from media giants like Google, Apple and Amazon.com. Last April, in announcing a $300 million investment in Nook by Microsoft, the chief executive of Barnes & Noble’s chief executive, William J. Lynch, said the company wanted “to solidify our position as a leader in the exploding market for digital content in the consumer and education segments.”
A few months after that, the bookseller began breaking out the financial results of the Nook division, In October it completed its strategic partnership with Microsoft by creating Nook Media, a subsidiary and a signal that it was ready to ride its digital business into the future.
But while Barnes & Noble’s most recent Nooks have won critical praise, they have failed to gain significant traction with consumers.
Other companies do not break out sales of their digital tablets, but Amazonhas been saying sales of its Kindle Fire were strong. Analysts say Apple’s iPads also appear to be doing well.
“The problem is not whether or not the Nook is good,” said James L. McQuivey, a media analyst for Forrester Research. “What matters is whether you are locked into a Kindle library or an iTunes library or a Nook library. In the end, who holds the content that you value?”
For an increasing number of consumers, he said, the answer is not Barnes & Noble.
Though the company’s stock was down only slightly — falling 2 percent to $14.22 — the reaction in the financial world was unsparing. Analysts stopped short of saying that this was a do-or-die moment for the Nook Media division, but they acknowledged that options for a strong digital future were narrowing.
In a note to clients, S&P Capital IQ said, “We think this portends greater market share losses for the Nook over the medium term” and downgraded its recommendation on Barnes & Noble stock from hold to sell. Barclays said in a note that the Nook’s precipitous decline was “quite concerning” and “below even our modest expectations.”
Last month, Barnes & Noble announced that Pearson, the British education and publishing conglomerate, was taking a 5 percent stake in Nook for $89.5 million. Analysts said that cash investment was welcome and the partnership with Pearson, a major publisher of educational textbooks, might herald a strategy to move toward dominating an education niche market. Still, that would be a significantly smaller business.
My bet: Barnes & Noble will have to bail, even if Microsoft decides to increase its investment in the technology. (I doubt that Microsoft is ready to invest more heavily in a company building on Android technology, at least not until Ballmer leaves, and they bring in a new CEO who gives up on Windows.)
The Nook HD is based on the Android Ice Cream Sandwich platform and has a roughly equivalent hardware and software platform as the Kindle Fire HD. It’s slightly cheaper — like $30 — but Kindle has first mover advantage and huge capital resources. And any comparison to an iPad makes Nook look like something from a few years ago.
Maybe Texas Instruments — who make the chipset in Nooks — wants to get back into retail products? Not likely. However, Intel has been making motions to shake up their business model with the collapse of the netbook market, and the decline of PC/Windows sales, and with a market cap of over $100B they might have the money to take a run. But would they have to buy Barnes & Noble to do so? I wouldn’t buy that side of things.
Google’s another player who might want to play with Nook, but not Barnes & Noble, per se. But it would be interesting if Google decided to go retail with their own gear, as well as do something different in bookstore retail. Imagine, for example, if bookstores were reconfigured to be like gigantic Redbox machines, where you could type in any of millions of books, ten thousand of which are actually in the machine, and are delivered on the spot into your hands. All others delivered next day to your home. One percent of the staff costs. But I have no reason to believe Google is tending in this direction.
A 2013 prediction: Barnes & Noble with sell, spin out or shut down the Nook business. Pearson might be a fallback, with Nook becoming a niche educational tool.
And I bet next to none of them will be made by Microsoft.
The high water mark for PC sales is definitely behind us, and we are now sailing into the tablet era of computing.
Damon Porter, NPD: Tablets to Outsell Laptops in Q4, Beyond
Buoyed by Black Friday sales, more tablets than laptops are projected to ship in the North American market for the first time ever in the fourth quarter - and it won’t even be close, according to NPD DisplaySearch.
NPD reckoned that 21.5 million tablets will ship in North America during the holiday quarter as compared with a forecast of just 14.6 million unit shipments for laptops and mini-notes. The trend will continue and accelerate in 2013, according to the research firm, which is forecasting the shipment of 80 million tablets in North America for the year versus 63.8 million laptops.
If the researcher’s final forecast for full-year unit shipments of tablets and laptops in the U.S. is on the mark, 2012 would become the first year in which tablets outsold laptops in the country.
But NPD didn’t expect tablets to outsell laptops in the worldwide market for a few more years. That won’t happen until 2015, when the researcher is projecting global annual shipments of 275.9 million tablets and 270 million notebook PCs.
I bet those projections will be exceeded.
Most importantly, and not talked about in this stats-heavy piece, is the fall of the old school WIMP user experience (window, icon, menu, pointer) and the emergence of new paradigms for user experience on touch-oriented proximal devices: smartphones and tablets.