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January 11, 2012

Intel Demonstrates Tablet-Style Ultrabooks At CES 2012

Latest data from market research firm IHS iSuppli indicates that Ultrabooks are the fastest growing segment of the global PC market. The market watcher predicts that the worldwide  Ultrabook shipments will surge to 29 million units this year, up from less than a million in 2011. At this rate, Ultrabook shipments will increase to 136 million units by 2015, representing 43 percent of global notebook PC shipments, up from merely 2 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2012.

Now media tablets are also after the same market and growing rapidly. The rapid growth of tablets, both iPads and Google Android (News - Alert) based tablets, is significantly cutting down the sale of netbooks, as well as slowing down the shipment of notebooks. Hence, PC supply chain is embracing the Ultrabook as its potential savior, says market watcher IHS iSuppli.

IHS study shows that global shipments of PC-type tablets are set to rise by a factor of 15 in the coming years, reaching 45 million units by 2015, up from 3.1 million units in 2011.

Ultrabooks are designed to compete with media tablets with features including thin and light form factors, instant-on activation, always-connected wireless links, solid state drives and long battery lives.

This week at the CES (News - Alert) 2012 in Las Vegas, Intel demonstrated a prototype Ultrabook dubbed Nikiski that features a transparent touch pad panel allowing tablet-style operation. The advent of the Nikiski represents the first wave of what promises to be a deluge of tablet-style Uultrabooks designed to stave off the inroads of Apple’s (News - Alert) iPad and other competing devices, says the rsearch firm.

In a statement, said Dale Ford, head of electronics & semiconductor research at IHS, “The arrival of Intel Corp.’s standard means the Ultrabook will proliferate beyond Apple’s MacBook Air and start to move into the mainstream.” He added, “This is the start of a long-term trend that will have major repercussions on the technology value chain for years to come.”

According to Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for Compute Platforms research at IHS, “The Nikiski and similar hybrid products will help the PC market fight back against the media tablet onslaught. Consumers clearly love the convenience and ease of use of the tablet. So to offer a very thin-form-factor device that can be used as a tablet as well as a notebook represents a much more competitive proposition for PC makers. With tablets eroding the growth of the notebook market, these types of devices are an issue of critical importance to the PC industry,” added Wilkins.

PC tablets like the Nikiski represent a rapidly expanding opportunity for computer makers, said IHS iSuppli. Using slate or convertible/hybrid form factors, PC tablets incorporate a full PC operating system such as Windows 7, Linux, or Mac OS. This contrasts with media tablets such as the iPad or Galaxy Tab from Samsung (News - Alert) Electronics Co., which typically are slate-style devices that utilize a mobile operating system and employ a touch screen as the primary interface.

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Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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