Windows 8 ultrabooks, hybrids to see uptick this year

Windows 8 laptop-tablet hybrids should drive a modest recovery in the second half of the year, IHS iSuppli said.

HP's Windows 8-based 11.6-inch Revolve ultrabook packs an Intel Ivy Bridge chip and comes with a touch screen.
HP's Windows 8-based 11.6-inch Revolve ultrabook packs an Intel Ivy Bridge chip and comes with a touch screen. Brooke Crothers

Laptop suppliers will continue to see weak demand in the first half, but things should pick up later in the year, IHS iSuppli said today.

After a "bleak" first quarter and a "slow" first half overall, Windows 8-based ultrathin laptops will "help revive the market" later in the year, the market researcher said.

Notebook PC shipments from the Top 5 laptop manufacturers, referred to as ODMs or Original Design Manufacturers, are forecast to amount to 35.2 million units during the first quarter, down 15 percent from 41.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to iSuppli.

All of the Top 5 ODMs are based in Asia and manufacture PCs for companies like Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

The first half will be weak for ultrathin laptops. But things should pick up later in the year.
The first half will be weak for ultrathin laptops. But things should pick up later in the year. IHS iSuppli

"While shipments commonly decline in the first quarter compared with the fourth, the drop this year is expected to be particularly sharp," said Peter Lin, an analyst at IHS.

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

But, wait, the story gets better later in the year.

Windows 8 ultrathin laptops -- which include hybrids that convert to tablets or have tablet attributes such as touch screens -- will get a "new lease on life in 2013 in light of new features including improved battery power...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," IHS said.

This should result in a recovery in the second half of the year. And at the close of 2013, notebook shipments from ODMs to client OEMs (PC makers) will rise 5 percent from their 2012 level of 156.9 million units, IHS iSuppli estimates.

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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