WebRTC Solutions Industry News

TMCNet:  Laptops go up against tablets at Consumer Electronics Show

[January 09, 2013]

Laptops go up against tablets at Consumer Electronics Show

LAS VEGAS, Jan 09, 2013 (Los Angeles Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Pity the poor laptop.

The darling of the tech world just a couple of years ago, laptops have become one of the biggest casualties of the tablet phenomenon. For consumers enamored of touch-screen tablets, laptops suddenly seem like stale, clunky gadgets whose basic clamshell design hasn't changed all that much in two decades.

It opens. It shuts. Yawn.

But this week at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the laptop is attempting a comeback. The stodgy clamshell is being cast aside by manufacturers who are trying to create a new category of device that combines the feel and functions of tablets and laptops.

Call them hybrids. Call them convertibles. These new computers fold. They twist. They slide. They detach.

And, more importantly, they are spawning like crazy. This wild burst of experimentation is being driven by a number of trends that suddenly converged: thinner designs, better touch screens and the arrival in October of Windows 8, Microsoft Corp.'s new operating system designed for touch screens.

But there's another crucial element: desperation. Industry insiders say laptops have to change quickly or face a long, slow decline.

"The impetus was the tablet," said Nick Reynolds, Lenovo's executive director for worldwide consumer products. "Unless the personal computer becomes interesting and personal again, it's going to die." The explosion of these so-called multi-mode laptop computers is the latest indicator of just how dramatically the computing industry has been turned upside down since Apple Inc.'s introduction of the first iPad almost three years ago.

Since then sales of tablets have consistently exceeded even the most optimistic projections. Companies that were once leaders in selling personal computers and laptops, or the components such as chips and processors that go inside, were caught flat-footed by the turbocharged pace of change.

According to the Consumer Electronics Assn., which hosts CES, tablets and smartphones, two categories that barely existed a few years ago, will account for 40% of global sales of all consumer electronic devices in the coming year.

Some companies have scrambled to build their own tablets, usually based on Google Inc.'s Android operating system, with some limited success. Last year, Microsoft unveiled its own tablet, Surface, based on the new Windows 8 platform.

But many other companies are trying to reinvent the laptop.

Glimpses of some of these devices were seen at the last CES. But since the release of Windows 8 in October, a trickle has turned into a flood. By the end of 2013, chip maker Intel Corp., which is making big bets on these new devices, is estimating that there could be as many as 140 varieties of these multi-mode computers on the market.

These new forms offer consumers unprecedented choice. The risk is that they also create confusion.

For instance, a consumer might consider the Toshiba Satellite. Open the top and you have a laptop running Windows 8 with a touch screen. Open until both halves lie flat, then slide the screen over the keyboard to switch to a tablet.

Or check out Lenovo's Yoga, which the company calls a "flip and fold" because its hinges allow you to open the screen and place it in four positions: tablet, laptop, tent or stand. The company also has the ThinkPad Twist, which opens and then lets the screen spin on an axle and close again so the screen faces up and hides the keyboard.

On Monday, Asus announced its 13-inch Transformer Book, a laptop with a detachable touch screen that can be used as a tablet.

As far as Intel is concerned, these devices are the future of computing. The chip giant, which dominates desktop computing, has struggled to get momentum in mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones.

During a news conference Monday, Intel executives spoke in front of a big display of these new-age laptops. The Santa Clara, Calif., company said it was moving up the release of the next version of its chips.

"We fundamentally believe that there's a convergence happening between tablets and notebook," said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager of Intel's Client Group.

The proliferation of designs reflects another uncomfortable truth: Laptop manufacturers don't really know what consumers want when it comes to hybrids, or even if they want them. And so the manufacturers are taking a see-what-sticks-to-the-wall approach.

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said he believes that some versions of these multi-mode laptops could catch on with consumers. The ability to have one device that lets users do work that still requires a keyboard and then switch to a tablet might have some appeal. And businesses might like these devices as a way to appease the growing number of employees who are asking for tablets but worry that iPads pose a security risk.

Moorhead said a few things still need to happen for multi-mode laptops to gain ground on tablets. The displays and battery life need to improve and cost needs to come down.

"If your convertible is just as good or nearly as good as that tablet, then you might see the tablet market start to take a hit," he said. "But we're still not at that point." Still, Skaugen of Intel projects that prices of some of these devices will drop to $599 in the coming year, putting them in the range of tablets. And as designers continue to play with the form, he's optimistic that laptops could recapture the hearts of consumers.

"Last year, I said there would be more innovation in this next year than we had in the past decade in the notebook," Skaugen said. "And I think that's come to fruition." chris.obrien@latimes.com ___ (c)2013 the Los Angeles Times Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

[ Back To WebRTC Solutions's Homepage ]

FOLLOW US

Featured Podcasts

Oracle in Enterprise Communications

Most in the industry have heard of the acquisition of Acme Packet by Oracle. What you may not know is that Oracle has a number of telecommunications products including a UC suite, WebRTC Session Controller, and Operations monitoring tools. Oracle is pursuing both the enterprise and service provider.

Featured Whitepapers

WebRTC Security Concerns

This whitepaper covers two of the most relevant topics in communications industry today: WebRTC and security. We will introduce the problem of security in WebRTC including those traditional VoIP attacks that are going to be present in WebRTC services. Later we will mention ad-hoc WebRTC attacks and protection mechanisms, to close with an overview of identity management solutions.

Migrating Real Time Communications Services to the Web

In the Internet age, businesses that own fixed and mobile communication networks, including traditional Communications Service Providers (CSPs) of all kinds, are being challenged with some tough questions: How do we stay relevant to our customers?

Delivering Enterprise-Class Communications with WebRTC

WebRTC is an emerging industry standard for enabling Web browsers with real-time communications capabilities. It enables enterprises to enhance Web sites, empower BYOD users, and improve video collaboration and on-line meetings, to name but a few examples.

WebRTC Report Extract Reprint

This document examines the growing important of WebRTC, both generally and for telecom service providers. It considers the expanding range of use-cases, the multiple layers of interoperability likely to be desired by telcos, and some implications in terms of network integration and mobility.

WEBRTC SOLUTIONS PAPERS, SLIDES, COLLATERAL

Robust Enterprise Grade WebRTC Systems and Services


The emerging WebRTC standard has become one of the industry's hottest topics – and with good reason. Being able to "communications enable the web" has Communications Service Providers as well as Enterprises busily making plans for deployment. But, as these plans unfold, reality is starting to intrude on those plans. Our expectations of telephony services are much higher than web browsing. We expect the phone to connect instantly, operate with minimal disruption, and work seamless across any network, anywhere, at any time. There is also an understanding that phone service is inherently secure. With WebRTC, the expectation is for these applications to behave in the same manner.

This session looks at the user experience and expectations of a WebRTC Enterprise service. It will also cover how a WebRTC enterprise handles security, reliability, and interoperability within browsers and networks.

ORACLE COMMUNICATIONS WEBRTC SESSION CONTROLLER

The Oracle Communications WebRTC Session Controller enables communications service providers (CSPs) and enterprises to offer WebRTC services – from virtually any device, across virtually any network – with carrier-grade reliability and security.

Sales Presentation: Oracle Communications WebRTC Session Controller

Agenda:
- WebRTC Market and Opportunities
- WebRTC Challenges
- Oracle Communication WebRTC Session   Controller
- Summary

ORACLE COMMUNICATIONS WEBRTC SESSION CONTROLLER SOLUTION

Communication Service Provider (CSP) voice service revenues continue to face pressure due to shifts in communication preferences and competition from non-traditional service providers. Voice communications are now often embedded into applications outside the domain of traditional telephony voice usage. CSPs have been challenged to effectively leverage and monetize new web-oriented communications technologies.