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Windows 8 Ultrabooks and hybrid tablets off to a shaky start in 2013

by Doug Drinkwater

February 21 2013

Convertible tablets like Lenovo's Yoga can expect greater traction in the second half of 2013, according to iHS iSuppli
Convertible tablets like Lenovo's Yoga can expect greater traction in the second half of 2013, according to iHS iSuppli

A recalculated estimate from research firm IHS iSuppli shows that vendors will continue to see weak demand for Windows 8 Ultrabooks and tablets until the second half of the year.

The research group has downwards revised its original forecast for original design manufacturer (ODM) notebook shipments in the first half of 2013, something it puts down to global economic instability, weak demand for Windows 8 Ultrabooks and surging tablet shipments.

"Smartphones and tablets have been outselling notebook computers, and demand for Ultrabooks and other ultrathin PCs so far has not taken off as expected,” said analyst Peter Lin.

As a result, IHS iSuppli now forecasts that the top five ODMs (all of which are based in Taiwan, Asia) will ship around 35.2 million devices in Q1 of 2013, compared to the 41.4 million shipped in Q4. These ODMs produce notebooks and other convertible designs for the top PC vendors.

The good news is that the research firm doesn’t see this slump lasting beyond the first half of the year, as it expects there to be a slight pick-up in demand for Ultrabooks, ultra-slim laptops and convertible tablets in the latter stages of 2013.

Part of this, the researcher says, will be down to increasing awareness for Windows 8.

“Though not performing as expected last year, Ultrathins are being given a new lease on life in 2013 in light of new features, including improved battery power, a form factor that lets the display be detached for use as a tablet, a higher-performance central processing unit in the form of Intel’s Haswell chip, and the gradual uptake of the recently released Windows 8 operating system.”

For the second half of the year, IHS iSuppli believes that ODM notebook shipments to client vendors will increase by 5% year-on-year to 156.9 million units.

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