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CES – Hybrid Tablets on the loose

by Carolina Milanesi  |  January 5, 2011  |  4 Comments

Surprise surprise, CES has not even officially started and it is all about tablets. We knew this was going to be the case and I do not want to dwell too much about the general tablet topic or the 7inch vs 10inch debate as I have done that in previous blogs and reports. What is interesting to me is the hybrid solutions that we have seen from the likes of Asus and Lenovo.

Asus has shown a slider form factor similar to what Lenovo presented last year. With this you basically have two in one: tablet and mini-notebook (aka netbook/smartbook). Some would argue that you could just do a netbook with a touch screen and let that be that. At the end of the day you give the option, which is what people want: Keyboard for typing and touch screen for manipulating content. The point is though, that when you want to use the screen alone, say to read a book or surf the web, you do not want the keypad to get in the way.  This is why having a detachable screen will appeal to many users.  At least initially… Touch-type technology is improving quite quickly and vendors are certainly focusing on improving the experience. Android’s new OS release Gingerbread has improved on the virtual keypad. So although the iPad keyboard seems to be a hot-seller accessory I wonder how long users will feel the need for a physical keypad.  We are looking into running a consumer panel on tablets use models and I am keen to hear from “normal” consumers – rather than my peers and people in the business – if they tend to focus on one task that requires touch and move to a different task that requires a keyboard rather than jumping between the two within the same task.  I think the same usage behaviour applies to smartphones that have touch and qwerty.

The other side of hybrid is around the OS. Lenovo offers LePad that slides into the base of a U1 so that you have Android and Windows in the same machine. Surely if Microsoft decided to bring Windows Phone 7 to a tablet form factor this kind of devices would make everyone happy. At the end of the day the reason why you want Microsoft and Android in the same machine is to cover your work and play needs.

Time to hit the floor and see what else is coming….wish me luck!


Carolina Milanesi
Research VP
10 years at Gartner
11 years IT industry

Carolina Milanesi is a Research VP in Gartner's Mobile Devices team and agenda manager for mobile devices. Ms. Milanesi leads the research for mobile devices worldwide and is responsible for the forecasting and market share effort in this area. Other areas of coverage are mobile…Read Full Bio

Thoughts on CES – Hybrid Tablets on the loose

  1. SS says:

    “A Nokia tablet is not likely. “The jury’s still out,” O’Hara says. “Personally, I’m not convinced that they are selling that well and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a price drop coming.”

    This is what Nokia’s Irish marketing boss Mr O’Hara said in The Irish Times yesterday( 07 Jan, 2011).

    Questions to Nokia:
    1. Does Mr O’Hara speak for Nokia or is this just his “personal view”?
    2. Whatever happened to the Nokia announcement late last year that the new MeeGo- platform will soon appear in early 2011 first on Nokia’s Tablet-PC?

    Every one noticed that the mobile IT business changed radically in June 2007, when Apple brought the iPhone to the smartphones market? Since then, all players in this business- including Nokia- have been trying to catch up with Apple. And with the iPad Apple again hit the jackpot last year! Now, everyone is again trying to catch up with Apple?

    This scramble to catch up with Apple is valid proof to show that Apple is the real “King” of the mobile IT-business whether anyone likes it or not. Apple is the undisputed trend setter in this business, which is fast resembling the fashion business. Just as no fashion trend is in for ever, no new trend in this smartphone cum tablet -PC – business will be there for ever.

    With rapidly developing technology and equally fast changing consumer tastes, the winners in this rat race will eventually be the ones, who understand the changed nature of this business. Mobile phones are no longer just phones that will be there for ever looking the same and functioning in the way as they did a quarter of a century ago, when Nokia entered the mobile phones business worldwide.

    Products in this business change as rapidly as women’s apparel fashion changes according to the season. If a vendor is not fast or smart enough to catch up with the changing trends and fashions, then it will eventually begin to look like a “gramophone” of the mobile IT- business.

    Nokia has missed the smartphone bus. Is it now going to miss the Tablet-PC bus too?

  2. Carolina Milanesi says:

    Hi SS,
    Thanks for your comment. With Motorola, LG, RIM and Samsung all with Tablets coming shortly and more expected from HTC, HP and others, Nokia cannot afford not to bring to market a tablet. i am sure Nokia has learnt from the 3g booklet and it will focus on differentiating its offering rather than doing a “me too” device.

  3. SS says:

    Just as you rightly say that “Nokia cannot afford not to bring to market a tablet”, so says Finnish leading business weekly Talouselämä’s Nokia-dedicated journalist Sami Rainisto. Sami writes almost daily on a special blog named interestingly “Nokialandia” on the website site of this Finnish business weekly( see link below).

    In one of his writings last week he begins by asking: ” No Meego phone before year end? No Nokia Tablet?” Later on Sami discloses that Nokia has nothing really to report from Las vegas. Neither does Nokia have any special eye-catching stand at the CES show. However, Nokia has one representative there!
    Sami also informs, that Intel has shown its own “MeeGo stuff” (?)at the show, which however does not give any idea of what the possible future Nokia MeeGo offering could look like?
    Another very interesting disclosure by Sami on his blog is that Nokia has told him that it has hired four blog writers especially for the purpose of telling their readers about the CES show!

    I wonder what these hired blog writers have been commissioned to write about since Nokia itself is not participating in this show in any big way? May be you know better as you have been personally there at Las Vegas on the spot seeing things for yourself?

    Link to Sami Rainisto’s blog :

  4. MWC 2011 is coming says:

    SS, feeling better now after that Nokia hate..?

    “Nokia has missed the smartphone bus.”

    Can you tell what they missed, after that i can tell what Apple has missed in smartphone industry…

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