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2013 and the convertible ultrabook

Toshiba's convertible ultrabook models are the ideal mobility gadgets for the education segment, says Santosh Varghese, GM, Digital Products and Services, Toshiba Gulf.

Since their introduction in 2010, tablets have outperformed analyst predictions. Smartphones were the go-to device for portable Internet connection, online games and other applications, before the tablet came into the picture.

The reason for this is usage. Consumer behaviour indicated that the smartphone is a gadget for communication and task-oriented activities, while the tablet is a gadget for media and entertainment purposes, including gaming, says Santosh Varghese, General Manager, Digital Products and Services,Toshiba Gulf.

Polls all over Europe, America, Southeast Asia and the MENA region yield consistent results: consumers do not buy tablets to replace their notebooks. While tablets are used primarily for online communication, games and entertainment, notebooks – along with desktop computers to a smaller extent – continue to be the go-to device for content creation. Does this mean tablet and notebook sales will remain neck-and-neck in 2013? Not so.

2012 may just be the last time tablets would disrupt markets with overwhelming sales. The tablet category is expected to have a year-on-year (YOY) growth of 17%, while notebooks will have a YOY decline in growth of 12%. However, a new category of mobile computing like hybrid notebooks or convertible ultrabooks (tablet/notebooks) will pick up by second half of 2013, and will fuel growth in the notebook category. Also, many touch-screen-based mainstream notebooks from the second half of 2013 will be of interest for the notebook category.

Toshiba is partnering with many education sectors in the region in promoting its all-new convertible ultrabook models, which are an ideal mobility gadget for the education segment, as they bring in the new concept of “create and consume”. Students and teachers will be offered an overall solution in just one device by allowing them to create content with the notebook mode and consume content using the tablet mode. 2013 will be a year of increasing hybridisation, a blurring of definitions between notebooks and tablets.

Five main factors ensure the growth of convertible ultrabooks this year. Foremost is affordability. The introduction of low-end devices and the natural price decline curve will support uptake. This will fuel an overwhelming increase in total cumulative sales through 2016. Secondly and consequently, the popularity of convertible ultrabooks will convince users to replace their outdated tablets over time, contributing to further growth. Third, a significant part of the overall increase will come from the substitution of conventional laptops, desktop computers and notebooks.

The other drivers are education initiatives such as that of Toshiba; and business adoption. The business world in general remains hesitant to use tablets. In Europe and North America, for example, only 5% of professionals use their tablets at the office. This is because knowledge workers and executives need a physical keyboard to efficiently create content. The convertible ultrabook addresses this need.

Polls show that users make distinctions regarding how they access content for different activities. On a tablet, they prefer using dedicated native apps to access content; while on a notebook, they do it through a Web browser. For example, they prefer using an app for playing games, while they prefer using a browser for reading the news. Needless to say, a convertible ultrabook eliminates the requirement to switch from one device to another during different activities, allowing for convenience of use and convergence of functionality.

Tablets have indeed encroached hugely into the notebook and smartphone market, but consumers still prefer the usability of a keyboard in the foreseeable future. The convertible ultrabook solves this dilemma completely. 

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