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    • 2015.11.24 Tuesday
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    Windows 8 to miss tablet sales surge says IDC

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      Improving Windows 8 is Microsoft's best bet for grabbing a larger share of tablet sales over the next four years, but it will be a tough fight, while the slow growth of Windows RT is likely to continue, analyst IDC says.
      "Microsoft's decision to push two different tablet operating systems, tablet windows 8 and Windows RT, has yielded poor results in the market so far," says Tom Mainelli, IDC's research director for tablets. "Consumers aren't buying Windows RT's value proposition, and long term we think Microsoft and its partners would be better served by focusing their attention on improving Windows 8. Such a focus could drive better share growth in the tablet category down the road."
      Windows 8 runs on x86-based machines and Windows RT runs on ARM chips bundled with locked-down hardware.
      The current IDC prediction suggests Windows-based tablets -- including Windows 7 and Windows 8 -- will capture just 2.8% of the market this year, third behind Android at 48.8% and Apple's iOS at 46%.
      IDC's revised projection is good news for 2013 Android tablet sales which have been revised upward from 41.5% last year. Apple is paying the price, slipping from 51% in 2012.
      By the end of 2017 Windows tablet share will increase to 7.4%, chipping away at both Android and iOS tablets, which will command 46% and 43.5%, respectively.
      IDC has boosted its projection about the number of tablets that will ship this year from 172.4 million to 190.9 million, a 10.7% jump. This is based on increased popularity of low-priced devices, half of which have a screen size smaller than 8 inches, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Shipments of tablets in 2017 will be more than 350 million, IDC says.
      Those smaller tablets will continue to grow in popularity, says Jitesh Ubrani, a research analyst for IDC's tablet tracker. "Vendors are moving quickly to compete in this space as consumers realize that these small devices are often more ideal than larger tablets for their daily consumption habits," he says.
      The growing popularity of small tablets will undercut sales of dedicated e-readers, which will decline permanently starting in 2015, IDC says.
      Windows 8, which launched in October, has struggled to gain traction, and failed to trigger a boost in PC sales, as new editions have done in the past.
      Earlier this week, for instance, research firm IDC said global PC sales would contract 1.3% this year, a drop atop 2012's even-larger slump of 3.7%. IDC cited an "underwhelming reception" to Windows 8 as one of several factors that will lead to a second-consecutive year of declining PC sales.
      A Windows price cut would also mollify long-time OEM partners, who have been increasingly at odds with Microsoft since the Redmond, Wash. developer announced its own hardware -- the Surface line of tablets -- last summer.
      The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said Microsoft was slashing the price of a combo deal for Windows 8 and Office 2013 to $30 from around $120. The discount applies to OEMs for PCs and other devices with touch screens smaller than 10.8 inches, said the publication.
      DigiTimes had a different tale, saying the Windows 8 discount was just $20 off the usual $80 to $90 per PC, and that the cheaper price was applicable to PCs, tablets and hybrids -- hardware that mixes elements of traditional laptops with tablets -- equipped with screens 11.6-in. or smaller.
      Discounts on Windows 8 could result in lower-priced touchscreen PC and tablets, perhaps as early as this summer when back-to-school sales kick off.
      "If you think about the components in a PC, almost every one has dropped off a [price] cliff," said Krans. "Except for the OS. Microsoft's pricing is their one lever left, the last where it can have a big impact on PC prices."
      While touch-enabled hardware has been among the few bright spots for Windows 8, many buyers, used to shopping for cut-rate computers, have balked at their higher prices.
      The targeted device sizes, whether 11.6-in. or 10.8-in., suggest that Microsoft is hoping to spark sales at the smaller end of the form factor spectrum, such as tablets windows 8 preços bundled with keyboards -- like the company's own Surface Pro -- or ultralight touch-enabled laptops similar to Apple's 11.6-in. MacBook Air, a flash RAM-based notebook sans touch that starts at $999.


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