After witnessing a steady decline in sales of traditional laptops and desktops, PC manufacturers have focused their efforts on more convergent, hybrid products spanning the gap between tablets and home computers.
The demand for notebook PCs actually rose by 18 percent in Western Europe (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK) during the first half of 2013, according to GfK. This surprising statistic can be explained by the fact that the category now includes convertible PCs, which conveniently become tablets when users require more mobility. Excluding these models, the demand for traditional notebooks would have declined 9 percent, compared to the same period in 2012. In light of these figures, it's no surprise that hybrid PCs were at the forefront of presentations from the world's leading computer brands at IFA in Berlin this weekend.
Sony, for example, presented its Vaio Flip, a notebook with a detachable screen that can be used on its own as a tablet. The new convertible model will be available in 13 and 15 inch versions. Similarly, Acer introduced the latest version of its Aspire R7, a 15.6 inch notebook that becomes a tablet when its screen is turned around onto its keyboard. The two computers, both running on Windows 8, will be launched before the end of this fall.
In a reverse variation on the same concept, other brands are marketing tablets that can be turned into PCs, such as the Asus Transformer Pad line, first introduced in 2012. In Berlin, the Taiwanese manufacturer presented the Transformer Pad T701T, a 10.1-inch tablet running Android 4.2, which can be connected to a keyboard to offer a PC-like setup.
This trend of convergence between notebooks and tablets is still in its early stages, and industry experts are eager to see how these hybrid models will fare among consumers.
IFA runs through September 11 in Berlin. Website: ifa-berlin.com