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HindustanTimes Thu,10 Jul 2014

PCs are becoming a touchy subject

AFP   May 08, 2013
First Published: 15:10 IST(8/5/2013) | Last Updated: 15:15 IST(8/5/2013)

Announcements from Acer, Asus and even Bill Gates show that touch interface and price cuts are what will reinvigorate the personal computer market.

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Although there is incredible competition between manufacturers within the global PC market, it appears that they all agree on one thing: that the future of personal computing will be on smaller and cheaper, touch sensitive devices, rather than on lumbering desktops and traditional notebook PCs.

Already one of the world's leading PC makers, Asus has brought its manufacturing capabilities to a much larger, consumer market through the success of the Nexus 7, the Android tablet it builds for Google, and the company's CEO, Jerry Shen, believes that small devices that run Google's operating system or Microsoft's Windows 8 is the direction in which the market is moving. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal following the company's quarterly earnings report, Shen explained that Microsoft's decision to adjust Windows 8 to run on smaller devices will have significant consumer appeal. He envisions 7- or 8-inch Windows 8 tablets to sell for as little as $300 before the end of the year.

The Taiwanese company also revealed that it is to enter the still nascent Chromebook market: "Chromebook is good, not on the consumer side, but it's good in the education and government side, and some for the commercial side," Shen said. In terms of traditional notebooks, Shen also revealed that there is a growing trend for touch sensitive laptops and that 21 percent of notebooks shipped over the last quarter featured a touchscreen interface.

Fellow Taiwanese manufacturer, Acer is also focused on smaller, touch sensitive Windows devices, the first of which, the W3-510, is believed to be the world's first confirmed 8-inch Windows tablet, accidentally leaked by Amazon on Friday when its details were published on its US website and then subsequently removed. According to a Digitimes report, Acer believes that touch screens will be a major feature for notebooks and that it expects touchscreen models to account for 50 percent of the its notebook shipments in 2014 as consumers learn to embrace Windows 8. However, like Asus, it is also hedging its bets by doubling its efforts in terms of Android tablets -- the company expects to ship over 10 million Android devices over the next 12 months.

Even Bill Gates, when asked about the future of the PC market in an interview with CNBC on Monday conceded that the traditional concept of the computer is changing so quickly that "it is going to be harder and harder to distinguish whether a device is a tablet or a PC," as manufacturers hurry to add tablet functionality to PCs and PC features, such as keyboards to tablets.


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