'The future of tablets is multi-mode, not dual-OS' says Lenovo's President Jay Parker

by David Needle

January 16 2014

"I see a day where tablets are your PC."
"I see a day where tablets are your PC."

Jay Parker is President of Lenovo for North America where he is responsible for over $5 billion in business the leading PC and device maker does here. 

As part of our ongoing interview series with tablet executives Parker sat down with TabTimes at the recent CES show in Las Vegas to discuss his company, dual-boot tablets, form factor and other issues affecting tablet buyers.

Android tablet, Windows tablet. Two different kinds of buyer?
Good question. I think the devices are aiming at the same customer set for the most part. Windows 8 right now certainly has more of a foothold in the commercial segment where the customer is probably already using Microsoft and needs the security and manageability Windows offers. As companies transition there are more opportunities for tablets.

On the Android side, it’s a great ecosystem with apps more broadly accepted by consumers and hitting price points consumers are willing to pay. At the end of the day Android is targeting customers looking to consume data on a convenient device ... it’s a different customer affinity for now.

And you see that changing? 
Customers are finding apps for tablet devices that aren’t related to BYOD like the guy on the factory floor tracking products as they go down the line, using a tablet device. It’s not necessarily the IT guy - it’s the sales guy, marketing, manufacturing looking for better, more efficient ways to do things.

We’re here at CES surrounded by all kinds of new mobile devices. As you look around at what competitors are doing, to what extent is Lenovo influenced by that?
We start with what we think the market wants. We do primary research on customers, and spend time in the retail and the commercial market and our sales team. We also have an advisory council in the U.S. that helps us form a plan and helps create the genesis of our product road map. I’d be disingenuous to say we don’t look at what others are doing and apply what we learn, but we’re not a follower, we’re not a company that copies what others are doing and offers it at a lower price.

How big is too big for tablets? 
We have a 19.5-inch touchscreen all-in-one Android computer, but I wouldn’t call something super big like that a tablet.

Samsung has just announced a 12.2-inch Pro series of tablets.
We're not ruling out the 12-inch form factor.

If we look out a few years from now will the dual boot Android Windows idea Intel announced at CES have taken hold?
I think it’s a bit complicated and perhaps a bit expensive. Generally I believe the customer wants simplicity and ease of use. I’m not sure dual boot systems provide that.

What is more likely is that one or more OSes will evolve to support your entire needs.

What do you mean?
I believe the ecosystem can support three OS’s and there won’t be a big discrepancy across them. What I believe is the big change in the industry is the multi-mode device,  the idea that I have a device that’s a tablet, and it’s a computer when I want it to be and it’s a seamless experience on one OS.

The Lenovo Yoga tablet gets high marks for innovation with ultra long battery life and different viewing modes. 
Yes, this is the multi-mode idea. We’ve had a lot of success with the Yoga PC, it’s the number one selling 2-in-1 device in the U.S.

Will or when will tablets replace notebook PCs? 
In today’s world I don’t think people are giving up PCs for tablets. I do see a day where tablets are your PC, but with ways to attach them to a larger monitor and be productive, but all the computing power you need in effect will be in the mobile tablet. 

Are low priced tablets a serious competitor?
At the low end there are a lot of non-branded vendors using price to sell. We don't see value in that and don't think it's great for the industry.

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David Needle is Editor of TabTimes and based in Silicon Valley
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