The much-anticipated announcement of the Tablet PC from Microsoft and their partners finally happened November 7. in front of a crowd of partners, resellers, end-user customers, press and analysts.
Combining software and hardware innovations, the Tablet PC presents a new way of thinking,
of business collaborating, of performing, and with industry leaders such as Intel, Toshiba ViewSonic, Acer and HP sharing Microsoft’s vision, this innovative approach may be exactly the boost the industry needs.
The mobile PC market is an exciting segment of growth in the PC industry. Desktop and new users alike are migrating to the mobile form factor. The convenience of portability, combined with power and performance is enabling the notebook segment to exceed expectations. Preliminary third quarter numbers are encouraging, with commercial notebooks finishing up two per cent over Q2 and consumer notebooks are also up 27 per cent over Q2-2002.
With technological innovations such as the advancement of the Intel processor and the power-friendly Transmeta chip contributing to the growth in the market by increasing speed and processing power internally, the Tablet PC will contribute to notebook growth. The Tablet PC is also more user friendly for hunt and peck typists. While expectations at the onset are modest, it is expected that the Tablet PC form factor will increase market share within the notebook category.
The concept is not just “”handwriting on a PC”” it is so much more. Loaded with the Microsoft’s Tablet PC (enhanced Windows XP Professional), the units are powerful computers, with the added benefit of rich text imaging. The Tablet PC provides a combination of a notepad and a fully enhanced notebook computer.
PC vendors, monitor vendors and many more are entering the market place with product offerings for all. The “”slate”” version is available from Fujitsu, ViewSonic, Motion Computing, Xplore Technologies and Electovaya. Acer and Toshiba offer the clamshell models. There is one hybrid model, a Compaq branded HP model. Prices range from the high $2,000’s to the high $4,000’s.
Vendors will target the corporate market initially as specific verticals lend themselves to this technology. Insurance, education and legal were the most popular cited at the Microsoft launch. Hardware vendors will be vying for market share in these segments mainly due to the fact that according to resellers, the education, legal and financial sectors represent approximately 19 per cent of sales verticals. Resellers now have a new product for one-fifth of their customer base.
With any new product release, availability and inventory will be concerns for end users. Resellers have an opportunity to help manage customer expectations with vendors inventory levels. There will be a learning curve on the units, as users merge handwriting with the computing experience. With its offering of full PC capabilities the Tablet PC is not just a notepad. Doing tasks that were not previously thought of as being computer-friendly are now a stylus stroke away.
The Tablet PC with its many possible applications is an enhanced notebook, with an enhanced price tag to go along with it. Don’t dismay, as with any new technology, price tags do drop over time.