Future PCs threat to Apple? Yes, says Citibank analyst

New hybrid laptop-tablet devices based on Intel's fast but power efficient Haswell chip may threaten Apple's tablet dominance, says a Citibank analyst.

Like Microsoft's Surface Pro, the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T combines mainstream laptop performance with a tablet design that works with a keyboard.
Like Microsoft's Surface Pro, the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T combines mainstream laptop performance with a tablet design that works with a keyboard. Samsung

Apple's "limited innovation" in tablets this year will make it vulnerable to newfangled PCs -- so says a Citibank analyst.

Yes, you heard that right, PCs. While financial analysts write lots of research notes about Apple every week, this one from Citibank analyst Glen Yeung -- sent out early in the week -- got my attention.

We believe Apple will launch an iPad Mini Retina and a thinner/lighter iPad5 (both likely sporting newer processors) in 3Q13...iPad innovation of this nature is insufficient to reverse share loss.

Whereas we see limited innovation in tablets in 2H13, we see growing innovation in PCs. The growing presence of touch-based, ultrathin, all-day notebooks at improving price points (e.g., Intel requires all Haswell-based Ultrabooks to have touch and envisions price-points as low as $599) could create competition for 10" tablets not fully anticipated by the market.

So, after getting their keisters kicked by the iPad for the last three years, PC makers may finally get some payback.

Citibank, like other analyst groups, is pegging a lot of this prognosticated PC success on new designs based on Intel's upcoming Haswell processor and Intel's stipulation that Haswell-based ultrabooks must have touch screens.

In other words, expect more designs like Microsoft's Surface Pro and Samsung's ATIV Smart PC Pro, but thinner and lighter with better battery life (though I suspect battery life won't approach that of the iPad).

And, lest we forget, Apple doesn't put touch screens on its MacBooks. That, of course, is reserved for iOS devices, which have limited use as full-productivity devices (i.e., I'm writing this on my laptop, not my iPad).

So, will PC makers be more successful at combining a laptop with a tablet, obviating the need for two devices? Yes. But whether this happens in numbers necessary to pose a real threat to Apple remains to be seen.

Hey Microsoft, when's that Haswell-based Surface Pro coming?

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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