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Intel-based tablets due in Q4 may give businesses a new reason to buy

Diana Hwang

Enterprise buyers will have more choices to outfit their end users with new tablets in the fourth quarter.

The new tablets will take advantage of new lower-cost

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Intel Corp. chips and touchscreens from tablet vendors that plan to refresh products to capture the growing market. This could enable organizations to standardize on a Wintel platform.

Mobile workers who rely heavily on email and are always in a mobile environment want a device that employs an energy-efficient chip, said Chris Hazelton, director of mobile research at 451 Research in Boston.

But if that mobile worker uses productivity applications such as Microsoft Office, and the full-fledged Office application is not yet available for ARM-based Android or iOS tablets, that user is going to need an x86-based device with an Intel processor, but with a battery life tradeoff of six to eight hours, he added.

Microsoft, Apple and others are all expected to update their tablet product lines in the fourth quarter with devices based on either on ARM or Intel's Haswell or Bay Trail chipsets.

The next round of tablets will be lower-cost devices to put tablets into the hands of more end users and turn the technology into a commodity, according to Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC Corp.'s mobility tracker program.

Hot tablet market cools off

Overall, tablets are entering a mature market state and beginning to mirror the PC industry's seasonal shipment trends.

There was an 8.5% decline in worldwide tablet shipments to 44.3 million units compared with the first quarter, which was strong primarily due to the strength in the Asia-Pacific market, according to IDC's second-quarter 2013 tablet shipment data. Despite the decline, Framingham, Mass.-based IDC reported a positive 56.2% year-over-year growth for the second quarter compared with the same time last year.

The tablet market has started to develop seasonality trends, according to IDC's Reith. This trend is similar to the PC industry, which typically experiences a seasonal decline during the second and third quarters, while the last calendar quarter was the strongest of the year.

Though Apple Inc. still leads, its share declined 14.1% as other vendors caught up. Apple now has 32.4%. Samsung came in second with 18%, followed by Asus with only 4.5% for the second quarter. Other vendors included Lenovo and Acer, which garnered 3.3% and 3.1%, respectively. The remaining 38.8% was made up by a variety of vendors.

On the operating systems front, Android-based devices took the lead with 62.6%, followed by iOS with 32.5%. Windows came in at 4.0% and Windows RT at a tiny 0.5%.

Microsoft tablet wins and losses

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Fujitsu Ltd. recently paraded a major win for its Windows 8 tablets.

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company in Japan will switch its 30,000 Windows XP machines to custom Fujitsu Windows 8 Pro tablets. The new mobile devices will be used by the insurance company's 30,000 sales employees. Emirates airline deployed Hewlett-Packard's ElitePad for its flight-attendant airline application.

The Japanese win is good news for Microsoft, as Windows 8 has yet to gain any strong traction in the enterprise for either the desktop or tablets.

Despite the large Windows 8 tablet deal for Microsoft and Fujitsu, it's clear that Microsoft's Surface RT, and Windows RT platform for that matter, has yet to make any dent in the market. In addition, Microsoft faces a class-action suit for not disclosing the lackluster success related to Surface RT, which caused Microsoft to take a $900 million inventory charge for Surface RT during its fourth fiscal quarter.

Companies such as Asus recently pulled its support for future Windows RT ARM-based products, citing the platform's lack of success. This is in contrast to graphics chip maker Nvidia Corp., which continues to openly voice its support for the Windows RT platform.


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