Intel's Haswell + AMD's Temash=End of 10" Tablets

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Both AMD and Intel had big launches this month and, while you will likely see both firms argue their part is better than what the other firm brought to the table, the real casualty may be the 10” tablet. You see, for some time it has been obvious that the way most people are now using their large tablets is as notebook alternatives because the notebooks they have are too heavy and have too little battery life.   And, should they want to buy a new one, the light notebooks have averaged about twice the price of an iPad. That’s all about to change and, with it, I think the 10” notebook is heading to the shelf as a redundant product.  This is how Haswell and Temash will kill the 10” Tablet. 

Haswell and Temash

Both Intel and AMD’s boards have made CEO changes largely because the respective firms weren’t making enough progress with mobile devices and the firms’ respective valuations have been hurt as a result. The companies got the message and each, in its own unique way, has made going after tablets -- and in Intel’s case cell phones -- a top priority.  

So while they have clearly defaulted into what appears to be a race against each other, what they actually have been in is a race against ARM and ARM had a honking big lead. Until these products end up in finished goods, trying to benchmark them against each other would be foolish. This is because other factors like the efficiency of the screen, the size and quality of the battery and the type of hard drive could overwhelm any point advantages in the processor. But one thing that isn’t speculative is how far both companies have moved the bar.  

Suddenly, when these chips ship in laptops and tablets, you’ll have products that weigh as little as, have performance in line with, and have a purchase prices around tablets like the iPad but in touchscreen notebook form.    

Battery/Price/Performance

Why I think people have been trying to use tablets instead of notebooks is because the devices weighed about half as much or less, they were far thinner and more portable and they cost about half what a notebook computer approaching their size and thickness would cost. But you can see the folks using them have mostly bought wireless keyboards, cases to protect the tablet, and struggle with screen size and the lack of core apps like Microsoft Office and Outlook (which you can’t even get in Microsoft’s Surface RT product). The end result is that tablets aren’t an ideal replacement for a notebook; they are an ugly compromise to get certain benefits because current laptops are too expensive, too thick, and have battery life closer to three hours than 10 hours.  

If you can close those gaps to nothing -- and AMD and Intel’s new processors appear to do that -- then you are given the choice between having a keyboard attached or wired. And we’ll likely find, given how many iPad users have the keyboards attached to their iPad in an iPad case, that people still prefer, when everything else is equal, a solution that gives them both in an attached form factor which doesn’t need a protective case.  

Wrapping Up: The End of Tablets

I also think people will find that a 10” screen is just too small and will gravitate back to the 13.3” screen size range in order to better get stuff done.  They may still buy a tablet but will likely buy one in the eReader class at around 7”. However, 7” isn’t really safe either as phones like the Samsung Galaxy Mega which come in between 5.8” and 6.3” (currently delayed in the US) could eliminate this class of product as well, and then we’d be back to favoring a 13.3” notebook and have a large cell phone while leaving all of the tablets on the shelf for ever more. I think Steve Jobs was likely the only guy that could have convinced us that a Netbook without a keyboard and with a ridiculously small screen to work on could ever replace a notebook computer. We are seeing the beginning of the end for tablets outside of those used for specific business or artistic reasons.   




Edited by Rich Steeves

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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