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A new report from a top investment researcher criticizes Microsoft and Intel for talking noisily about tablets, but producing no actual products to date.  (Source: PC Magazine)
Pair missed out on a key emerging market by responding too slow

Intel is vowing to release 35 Atom-core powered tablets next year sporting Windows 7, Android (Linux), and Meego (Linux); but those promises did little to stop Goldman Sachs researchers from delivering a scathing review on the companies' tablets progress.

Reports from Goldman Sachs often hold a key influence on corporate stock prices, so the report is troubling to both Microsoft and Intel, which received criticism in the report.

Analyst Bill Shope praises the progress of ARM processor makers and leading tablet OS makers Apple (iOS) and Google (Android).  He predicts sales of 54.7 million tablets in 2011 and states, "If this is the case and our tablet forecast is anywhere near accurate, this would be the first time in three decades that a non-Wintel technology has made legitimate inroads into personal computer."

Mr. Shope adds, "This rush of iPad competitors is not surprising in itself, as Apple tends to regularly define the direction of the electronic media and computing industries.  What is surprising is that many of these products are not utilizing Intel microprocessors or a Microsoft operating environment."

Another Goldman Sachs analyst, Sarah Friar, points out that Microsoft claimed that it would deliver tablets by Christmas, but that the "tablet response is still not forthcoming", having slipped to 2011.

ISuppli, a separate market research firm recently offered a similar prediction of 63.5 million tablets shipped in 2011, up from approximately 13.8 million sold this year.

The New York Times this week ran a report that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was set to announce new Windows tablets, including a Dell and Samsung model, at CES 2011 in January.  The source says that Microsoft may even show a tablet running Windows 8.

Similarly Intel is trying to turn around its ship, with the release of its aforementioned 35 tablets on its "Oak Trail" (Windows 7, Android, MeeGo) and "Moorestown" (Android, MeeGo) platforms.

Of course both companies were talking about releasing tablets at CES last year -- but neither delivered.

At least iSuppli shows Microsoft a little more love, commenting, "Even with Microsoft’s stumbles to date in tablets, iSuppli believes that Microsoft will figure out how to design a functional tablet operating system."

But the picture is clear -- these companies must deliver in 2011 or they risk being reduced to bit players in the next generation of computing.

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RE: "Tablet"
By michael2k on 12/16/2010 1:57:03 PM , Rating: 2
Excepting that Apple sells in one month the number of tablet pcs in a year? That's why everyone says Microsoft missed the boat.

RE: "Tablet"
By SAmely on 12/16/2010 3:00:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying Microsoft didn't miss the boat. They certainly did on the Slates, for sure. It's disappointing to some degree, especially with all the hype they threw out there.

With the numbers you just generally indicated, I don't know if it's true or not that Apple outsold all Tablet PCs in one year with their iPad in one month. Not without seeing concrete sales figures, anyways.

RE: "Tablet"
By michael2k on 12/16/2010 6:40:37 PM , Rating: 3

In 2004 there was 1.2m "slates" and 2.3m convertible notebooks for a total of 3.5m units.

They projected, in 2009, sales of 4m units at the low end and 14m units on the high end. If 4m, then about 1.5m would have been slates and 2.5m convertibles.

Current estimates in 2010:

15m tablets, over 10m of which are iPads. They sold 4.19m last quarter, or 1.4m in a month (see above where the whole allotment of PC slates was 1.5m in a year). We already know that Samsung sold over 1m Galaxy Tabs, leaving Microsoft with about 4m slates this year.

RE: "Tablet"
By Solandri on 12/16/2010 9:23:42 PM , Rating: 3
Excepting that Apple sells in one month the number of tablet pcs in a year? That's why everyone says Microsoft missed the boat.

Microsoft didn't miss the boat on tablets. They had their fingers all over the tablet PC market. Unfortunately, they were actively trying to steer the market away from devices like netbooks and the iPad because they don't run a full copy of Windows. No full version of Windows = less OS revenue for Microsoft.

Instead, they, along with Intel (which makes the most money off mid- and high-end processors) were trying to convince the market that a tablet PC should be a full blown computer which could double as a laptop. That led to a bunch of tablets which weighed 4-6 lbs and cost $500-$1000 more than an equivalent laptop. Of course they flopped in the market.

In trying to protect their pre-existing business model, Microsoft and Intel broke the #1 rule of business - give the customer what they want. I've been tinkering with tablets since the early 2000s and have been advocating something in the 1-2 lb range costing $100-$500 without the functionality of a full-blown laptop. The iPad hit the fringe of that spec and took off. I still say Apple is missing the meat of the potential market by locking the iPad down as a published content viewer and charging too much for it. If one of the Android tablets can function as a customizable clipboard replacement and can drop the price to the $250 range, I predict it will leave the iPad in the dust.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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