Windows 8 expected to trigger growth in touch-enabled notebooks

Windows 8 expected to trigger growth in touch-enabled notebooks

Summary: While there's little doubt that PC sales as a whole are stagnating, the new touch-enabled form factors that Windows 8 has given rise to may be attracting consumer attention, not to mention much-needed dollars.

TOPICS: Windows 8
(Image: Dell)

While it's fair to say that Windows 8 isn't having as smooth a ride as Microsoft might have hoped, it's not all bad news for the operating system, with one research firm is predicting that it will stimulate growth in touch-enabled notebooks.

The research firm in question is NPD DisplaySearch, a part of The NPD Group that provides global market research and consultation focused on the display supply chain. It is predicting a rapid expansion of the touchscreen-enabled notebooks over the course of the year. Last year, the company estimates that touchscreens were present on only 3 percent of notebooks sold, but it expects this number to grow to more than 12 percent during the course of 2013.

For the sake of comparison, NPD data indicates that touchscreens are present on 77 percent of all mobile phones sold, and a 100 percent of tablet PCs sold, which leaves notebooks with plenty of room for expansion.

The primary reason for the growth is being put down to the new notebook form factors that Windows 8, with its focus on touch, has given rise to. Alongside systems featuring the traditional clamshell designs are flip and convertible systems, which NPD say "have been created to attract end users".

And if the predictions turn out to be accurate, it seems like this strategy might well be working.

NPD has broken down the notebook market into five distinct form factors. There are:

  1. Clamshell with track pad, which don't feature a touchscreen display

  2. Clamshell with touchscreen, which sees a touchscreen display fitted to a standard clamshell notebook

  3. Flip design with built-in keyboard, where the system is switched between touch and keyboard modes by changing the device from clamshell to slate

  4. Detachable with bundled docking kit, which is a tablet PC sold with a docking kit

  5. Detachable without keyboard, which is a tablet PC that can be connected to an optional keyboard.

"Touchscreen and PC manufacturers are looking carefully at how successful these initial Windows 8 touchscreen notebook models are in the market, as the touchscreen module requirements for Windows 8 increase module costs, and those requirements are difficult to meet in high volume production," said Calvin Hsieh, research director at NPD DisplaySearch.

But there's a problem — price.

As Hsieh pointed out that "when consumers consider purchasing a notebook computer with touchscreen functionality, the cost of the device is more important than its form factor".

"If prices decline sufficiently, then penetration of touch into the 200 million unit global market and growth in larger screen sizes would drive significant growth for touchscreens in the coming quarters," he said.

Touchscreen capability doesn't come cheap, with the bill of materials for adding a touch module alone coming in at between $50 and $80 for notebooks, with the touch layer on the actual screen adding more to the total cost.

Hsieh suggests that one way to reduce cost would be to opt for structured sensor glass (SSG) rather than the one glass solution (OGS) for notebook touch integration, but that this "may require changes to Windows 8's requirements". Another way to reduce cost would be to do away with the optical bonding process and leave an air gap between the touch sensor and the display, but this reduces the quality of the screen.

While there's little doubt that the PC industry as a whole is stagnating, adding touch to notebooks may have given that market a much-needed — although possibly quite short — sales boost.

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Topic: Windows 8

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  • Miracles do happen

    But I wouldn’t bet on it...
    • Your post lacks logic...

      No body will bet on your opinion.
      • Let me explain it to you

        For the past year or so (pre and post Windows 8) Microsoft seems to be doing everything they can to annoy and enrage their loyal user base and developers, while at the same time they remain as irrelevant as ever in the mobile front.

        So if there was any chance for Windows 8 to trigger growth on any form factor it would be a miracle.

        • all sort of miracles are happening in the open source camp these days

          and you know the reason for that? they lure you with the free stuff. do you remember there were no ads in youtube one day? do you remember there were no paid search rankings in search one day? Did you hear what google did with Active sync know they have a large android user base now? this is what happens when you praise and trust gadgets or software coming from a marketing company. keep going that route and one day you will be probably just watching an advertisement before calling your dad for help!
          • dugbug11: Are you posting/replying on the right thread?

            Where in my posts did I praise the Google OS (Chrome or Android)? And since we are talking about me I do think that the Chrome OS is a joke although Android phones/tablets are the best at the moment (for me) because of Samsung…

            That doesn’t mean though that Microsoft has any chance against any of those with their current clown offerings. And that is the problem…
          • "android phones and tablets are the best at the moment (for you, would be part to emphasize on)

            Take any android tablet.. And pit it against the surface pro.. You'll clearly see how insignificant the android offerings look when compared to the pro.. Because you'll be comparing a scaled down operating system against a full fledged desktop system.. Android tablets are awesome.. So are iPads.. But surface pros are just playing on a different level.. Although it's gonna excruciatingly expensive, I wouldn't mind getting a surface pro 2 with Haswell...
          • You are right

            But I still disagree :P

            The point here is that the Android devices are real tablets. I can see my colleague’s 7” Samsung tablet doing everything he wants it to do, i.e. watch videos, browse the internet, play games.

            Surface Pro is a laptop/tablet combination but it doesn’t do either role too well. As a tablet is too heavy/big etc and as a laptop it can never compete with my X1 Carbon running Windows 7.

            The problem here is that Microsoft is trying to apply the same recipe on every form factor instead of getting the message that people require the best device for each job. If for example Windows RT was coming out without any Windows, just the Metro UI and at 7” I would consider it as a proper tablet and probably prefer it to Android OS.

            All Haswell will bring is more powerful CPU/GPU at a better power/performance ratio. That is cool but the current tablets do what they meant to do already, so I don’t see any big changes coming because of that.
          • Well put.

            Surface Pro is too bulky, heavy, and sluggish to be considered a tablet. The battery life is also too short. If I were labeling it, based on specs and capabilities, I'd call it a touch netbook with removable keyboard before I'd call it a tablet. Stretching a little, calling it an Ultrabook would be another alternative.
          • hit the nail square

            Bill: You hit the nail squarely on the head........... The Surface Pro really isn't a "tablet". The processing power required to run full scale Windows results in a heavy unit with short battery life. It's an ill conceived bastard product that doesn't meet any application well. Like one of those huge Swiss Army Knives with every conceivable tool attached.... If you carried one in your pocket people thought you had an erection ;-)........ Was is Mae West who made the famous quip which I paraphrase here: "Is that a Swiss Army Knife in your pocket or are you happy to see me?" The surface pro will go down in history as one of those great flops along with the Newton!
          • I agree

            I'm loving my HP Envy x2 128GB. Awesome hardware. I own an ICS Sony Tablet and Bionic both rooted, ipod touch, many PCs and a Mac mini. Having a Mac Air that converts into an iPad with the power of an x86 PC and 12 hours of battery is crazy.
        • Naaa,

          They don't annoy me! Seems that mainly annoy the winging type, you know the type.
          They tend to go on and on and on about how bad certain things are. After awhile a group of them get to get and go on and on and on too each other how bad things are but they don't seems to say a lot. ;-)

          But then that wouldn't be you would it?
      • Your posts lack credability

        No body will listen to your opinion.
        Alan Smithie
        • Alan do know that Owllll1net posts

          have never had any real Logic or credability to them.
          Over and Out
          • See it's happening already!

            In relation to my first post!
          • and this post

            Is a fountain of logic.. :p
    • Agree

      If the low end isn't selling, what makes anyone think the barely sub $1k notebooks are? I've been looking and haven't found anything really worth getting for the money.

      Drive it? Yeah, into the ground.
  • Touch on laptops isn't ergonomic

    Touch on laptops isn't ergonomic, the physical dimension of the keyboard forces users to angle the screen at a distance and angle that makes using touch uncomfortable for sustained use. Having a touchscreen might make a good demo, but actually using it is another matter.

    Take away the physical keyboard and go purely touch, or go no touch and stick with the keyboard. Windows 8 can't make up its mind so that's why we have so much ambiguity with Windows 8 pcs form factors.
    • Maybe

      It's the start of hybrids with detachable keyboards for tablet use or fold it. Windows 8 made OEMs to innovate and not stick to conventional design. Windows 8 offers both experience tablet and laptop.
      • Re: Windows 8 made OEMs to innovate

        See, we get flooded with Microsoft marketing all the time.

        No need for repeating that junk in forums too. Please.
        • Repeating

          Then why do you keep repeating the same "junk" on every forum about MS/Window 8? Whenever I see your name, and a few others, I consider it nothing but SPAM - it's always the same Microsoft hate verbiage.