Bigger tablets stumble: iPad Pro on hold, Asus 13.3-inch dual-OS tablet killed

by David Needle

March 14 2014

The Asus Transformer Duet TD300 is a 13.3-inch tablet that runs both Android and Windows software
The Asus Transformer Duet TD300 is a 13.3-inch tablet that runs both Android and Windows software

Big things are expected from a new generation of bigger screen tablets designed for productivity, but it may be time to pull back on some of the rosier forecasts.

The biggest of the big tablets to get attention is Samsung’s Galaxy Note Pro, which was unveiled at a splashy media event in January at CES, but only recently started shipping.

Starting at $750 for a WiFi-only version, the Galaxy Note Pro features a 12.2-inch display, productivity apps, multitasking software that lets you run as many as four apps in different windows on the screen and Samsung’s S Pen stylus for annotating documents and sketching.

But a report by Digitimes Research notes that the Samsung tablet has a weaker price/performance ratio versus notebooks in a similar $700+ price range and states that “most of Android's enterprise applications are inferior to those on the PC platform.”

(A recent round of reviews gave the Galaxy Note Pro high marks as a solid tablet, but said it falls short of being a true notebook replacement).

Digitimes, which tracks supply chain developments, says it expects the Galaxy Note Pro to “only achieve shipments of around one million units in 2014.”

While a million units is  not a huge number by say Apple or Samsung standards, recent history has shown the Korean tech giant is willing to invest and improve a product over time if it thinks the market potential is much bigger.

For example, Samsung basically established the so-called “phablet” category of combination smartphone/tablet device with the first Galaxy Note in 2011, which had a 5.3-inch screen.

Earlier attempts, such as the Dell Streak with a 5-inch display failed and the Galaxy Note was initially seen as a very niche product that has since sold in the millions.

Apple and Asus – second thoughts?

Two other high profile big tablets may never see the light of day.

Meanwhile, the so-called iPad Pro isn’t even a real product in terms of anything Apple has confirmed it’s working on – but nothing new there, Apple rarely tips its hand.

But there were reports last year and even more recently that Apple was readying an iPad Pro, a 12.85-inch screen version of the iPad designed to appeal to business users and professionals. Digitimes claims its sources say Apple has shelved the project for now. One reason may be difficulty in getting ample quantities of the new display it has planned.

Analyst Sameer Singh recently made some compelling arguments in TabTimes as to why Apple needs to come out with an iPad Pro to keep it's growing base of enteprise customers happy. We'll see.

In the case Asus, the tech giant showed off the 13.3-inch Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300 at CES with Intel’s backing.

But recent reports indicate the dual-boot (Android & Windows) tablet has been cancelled before the first units even shipped.

A report in TabTimes earlier this month indicated the Asus tablet was in trouble, and today the Wall Street Journal states that the tablet has been canceled after pressure from Google and Microsoft who didn’t like the idea of a device running both of their respective operating systems.

There are other bigger screen tablets on the market and undoubtedly more to come. Whether they achieve more than niche status (even as lighter weight notebooks and hybrid devices emerge) remains to be seen.

(The new generation of hybrid devices and picking the right tablet to buy will be part of the expert series of discussions at the Tablet Strategy conference in New York on May 6, 2014)

David Needle is Editor of TabTimes and based in Silicon Valley.
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