Sunday, January 30, 2005

Microsoft envisions Tablet PC push in 2005

In a move that will inevitably influence the hardware market, leading software and operating system giant Microsoft is looking at 2005 to be the unofficial "year of the Tablet PC" according to PCWorld.com. Here are some key excerpts and focus areas to give you an indication:

Marketing (which is lackluster at best so far): "Microsoft will support the launches of the lower-end Tablet PCs with marketing dollars, Williams said. However, not all PC makers are going along with Microsoft's push for broader adoption of the pen-enabled notebooks. IBM and Dell don't sell any Tablet PCs, and Hewlett-Packard (HP), which does offer a tablet, does not see consumers buying the devices en masse."

Competitive pricing compared to 'traditional' notebooks: "We're right on the verge of seeing a lot more competitively priced tablets on the market," said Robert Williams, director of business development and partner engineering in Microsoft's Mobile Platforms Division. "This spring, you will see tablets go into retail in the $1500 to $1600 price range." For the past year or so, Microsoft has been working with PC makers and component suppliers to push down the cost of manufacturing Tablet PCs, Williams said. As a result, the new tablets should only be $100 to $200 more expensive than comparable notebooks, he said."

Greater retail availability: "Toshiba America plans to ship a new Tablet PC in its Satellite consumer and small business notebook line in the first quarter of this year. The $1599 Satellite R15-S822 will be the first Toshiba Tablet PC to be sold widely in retail stores, said Terry Cronin, director of product management in Toshiba's digital products division."

Given Microsoft's ability to influence hardware manufacturers and the industry as a whole, this is one of the few times I see this as a benefit. The Tablet PC is truly the next evolutionary step in portability and productivity. Let's check in again at the end of 2005 to see if the Tablet PC market gains a greater share of the notebook market; in 2004, Tablets only accounted for 1.3% market share.



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