Can the enterprise popularize notebook, tablet touch hybrids?

The market for tablet/laptop hybrids may ultimately be determined by emerging markets and enterprises.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Intel CEO Paul Otellini stumped for a blend of touch enabled ultrabooks that would combine laptops and tablet features and ultimately be that consolidation device so maybe you can leave a few gadgets at home.

The problem: Consumers are buying tablets and PCs. Not the combination of the two. Otellini said:

Typically the enterprise SKUs particularly in notebooks tend to be about a third of the business. That's been true sort of year in and year out for a long time. The trend that is underlying that is that more and more businesses are allowing their employees to bring any kind of computer they want into the office. And so you're seeing a bit less rigidity around that number than we've seen in the past.

One wrinkle to ponder is whether corporations may find use for the tablet-laptop hybrids built on the Windows 8 and Intel platforms. OK, you can stop laughing now. But I'll step up to the confessional: I'd love a notebook/tablet crossover at around 3 pounds. What's unclear is whether I represent a larger market since I churn out a lot of words a day and need a keyboard.

The market for tablet/laptop hybrids may ultimately be determined by emerging markets. Here's a look at Lenovo's Yoga hybrid.

Otellini was asked if emerging markets go toward ultrabooks or tablets. He said:

I don't think anyone in the world knows the answer to that question. If you look at people buying tablets today, particularly in the iPad arena, they're people that have started out with PCs and very often still use PCs and it's a complementary device. How that unfolds two, three years from now I don't think anyone knows. What I am very excited about is this notion of bringing convenience combined with the productivity, the compatibility and the usefulness of a keyboard into the same device. And you'll see a number of these (hybrids) shipping second half of this year, as the energies of our OEMs and the ODMs gets unleashed. I think that it's way too early to have a debate on ultrabook versus tablet because in fact in my view, the long-term form factor is probably somewhere in between those two devices.

Bottom line: If tweeners take off, the enterprise may push them along. The jury is way out on whether there's a big market for hybrid notebooks and tablets beyond me.

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