Apple's lack of innovation with the iPad could leave the door open to new PC form factors such as ultrabook systems, says one analyst.
Citibank analyst Glen Yeung believes that Apple needs to do more than make its flagship tablet lighter, thinner, and faster if it is to not become vulnerable to new classes of PCs.
"We believe Apple will launch an iPad Mini Retina and a thinner/lighter iPad5 (both likely sporting newer processors) in 3Q13 … iPad innovation of this nature is insufficient to reverse share loss," wrote Yeung in a note to clients earlier this week, reports CNET.
"Whereas we see limited innovation in tablets in 2H13, we see growing innovation in PCs. The growing presence of touch-based, ultrathin, all-day notebooks at improving price points (e.g., Intel requires all Haswell-based Ultrabooks to have touch and envisions price-points as low as $599) could create competition for 10" tablets not fully anticipated by the market."
Haswell is a new line of processors that Intel plans to launch in June. They are be built using the same 22-nanometer process and the 3D tri-gate technology as Ivy Bridge chips, but will deliver performance per clock and lower power consumption. This makes them perfect for use in mobile devices powered by a battery.
Given how disruptive the iPad has been to the PC industry, helping—in collaboration with the smartphone and Android-powered tablets—to bring the sector to its knees and send OEMs scrabbling to find new markets, it's hard to see how Windows-powered tablets could gain enough traction to cause sleepless nights over at Apple HQ. That said, the market relies on the fickle nature of consumers, combined with the added enterprise appeal of tablets running full-blown versions of Windows, could be enough to apply a jolt from a set of heart paddles to the industry.
Note that I did say 'could.'
The PC industry has shown itself to be ether unwilling to unable to fully embrace the fact that people don't want as many desktop and notebooks any more, and are instead spending their money on tablets and smartphones. PC OEMs are finding it hard to keep up with Apple's aggressive yearly upgrade cycle. There are a lot of iPads out there, but the market doesn't seem to be anywhere near saturation yet. But buyers—consumers and enterprise alike—are easily distracted by new shiny things.
We're not expecting the iPad to get a refresh until late this year, so this gives PC OEMs a chance to innovate, but they need to be really fast, and get compelling hardware on shelves for users to buy.