WinTel tablet paradigm stalls

Posted by Trent Nouveau

A joint effort by Microsoft and Intel to challenge Apple's wildly popular iPad in the highly lucrative tablet market seems to have gotten off to a very slow start.

According to FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger, only five of more than a dozen WinTel tablets can actually be purchased for immediate delivery in the US. Berger also told Bloomberg that early demand for Redmond's indigenously designed Surface tablet seemed "disappointing" thus far.

"While PC variants running Windows abound, tablets built on ARM chnology-based chips or low-power processors from Intel are scarce," confirmed IDC researcher Bob O'Donnell. "You can hardly even find one. So even if you wanted to buy it, it would be difficult.”

Meanwhile, Alex Gauna, a San Francisco-based analyst at JMP Securities LLC, noted that while Windows doesn't typically "come screaming out of the gate" (like Apple), it was fair to say Intel and Microsoft would have hoped for more.

For its part, Intel said that consumers now have more choice in terms of options with a variety of devices on the market, including tablets, ultrabooks and convertible hybrids.

"We have a number of innovative designs across the spectrum that offer a full Windows 8 experience, including new Intel-based tablets selling now from Samsung, Acer, Fujitsu and LG with several more on the way," added Intel spokesperson Bill Calder.

As TG Daily previously reported, lackluster demand has reportedly prompted Microsoft to slash orders of its Surface RT tablet from 4 million to 2 million units. According to DigiTimes, the slow start for Redmond's ARM-based tablet could ultimately persuade Microsoft to lower the price of its upcoming Intel x86-powered Surface Pro ($899 for 64GB and 128GB for $999) which is slated to ship in January.

Microsoft has thus far declined to provide precise sales data for the Surface RT, with Steve Ballmer going on record as saying "reception" to the tablet has been "fantastic." However, other tablet manufacturers, including Asus, Samsung and Dell, are apparently reporting "weak consumer demand," at least according to DigiTimes.

Nevertheless, Redmond is still planning to release additional mobile hardware. As industry insider MS_nerd (via BGR) recently reported, the Washington-based company is preparing at least three Surface tablets that may very well hit the market by the end of 2013.

The first tablet - apparently dubbed the Surface RT 2 - will boast a 8.6-inch display, along with a Qualcomm chipset instead of Nvidia's Tegra CPU powering the current Surface RT.

The second device, reportedly an 11.6-inch Surface Pro, could be equipped with a yet-to-be-released AMD Temash APU instead of the current Intel Core i5 processor. Finally, Microsoft is said to be eyeing the design of a Surface Book with a with a 14.6-inch display and Intel 22-nanometer Haswell chip.