Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PC OEMs: act now to answer smart tablets like the rumored iPod Touch

Whether or not you believe the rumors of the coming large-form iPod Touch, the larger story is that there's an obvious amount of pent-up demand for such a device. While I'm sure Apple delivering it would create quite a stir, it's worth noting in the Android realm, there are heavy hitters who span from vending everything from handsets to notebooks. If they weren't thinking about building a "smart tablet" before, they likely are now. And thus Apple will be compelled to as well.

This form factor is perfectly sized to slip into a purse. As I've noticed anecdotally, users of netbooks in coffee shops tend to be skewed towards the female persuasion. But smart tablets will slip into any kind of bag, so they could be popular with either gender.

So the first question in the minds of OEMs, as they choke on the margin erosion from netbooks, is "do I build one of these?" I'd propose asking the question a different way, "what if I don't build one of these?" Mostly because my instinct is that others will. Loosely paraphrasing Intel's Andy Grove, either you eat your own lunch or someone else will.

But what can an OEM do to continue the netbook/notebook momentum and keep at least some sales from being displaced by smart tablets? For starters, they might want to think about adding a video-in port which can receive video from an iPhone/iPod/Android/Windows Mobile/etc device. And/or offering smartphone companion software so that the netbook can be used as a bigger screen and real keyboard for the smartphone. That would allow for a person to keep a pocket sized smartphone and have their notebook usage model.

I would think it a good idea for netbook/notebook chipset vendors to integrate such an input port, and keep the BOM costs down for OEMs. And I think Celio is set up nicely for a CES award.

Disclosure: no positions

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