Hybrids not likely to replace tablets
This year, when we saw the brigade of hybrid devices show up at the various tech events, the thought that next year will be all about hybrids may have crossed everyone’s minds. However, industry experts beg to differ and don't think that hybrids are here to compete with tablets, rather they could just make a small space of their own, if priced well. Vishal Dhupar, Managing Director – Asia South, Nvidia, opines, “For hybrids to gain traction in the future, they need to be more affordably priced than the ultrabooks that are currently available in the market. With the evolution in digital content and consumer preferences, newer form factors will continue to emerge as OEMs find innovative designs to satisfy consumers.”
When we asked Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, Datawind, if next year will be all about tablets, this is what he had to say: “According to me, new trend is Tablet cum Smart phone. Nobody can imagine their life without a phone, and now tablet are becoming necessity to their lifestyle statement. The form of a tablet speaks about the convenience of a device’s use and we think the 7” device is well-suited to the needs of the target demographic that we have in mind.”
Rajesh Thadani, Director, Consumer Business Segment, Lenovo
On the other hand, Rajesh Thadani, Director, Consumer Business Segment, Lenovo, is quite optimistic about the future of hybrids, “Convertibles represent the latest demonstration of our PC+ approach in action. Lenovo has an entire family of touch-optimised convertible devices, including the Yoga 13 and Yoga 11, each specially designed to maximise Windows 8 usability. These new multi-mode devices might change the future of personal computing and redefine the way people use PCs, with the ability to serve different needs. They address the unique needs of consumers, businesses and everyone in between by creating high performance laptop-tablet combinations in new designs and different sizes.”
Affordable tablets will continue to grow in India
We are a price sensitive market and will continue to be even in the year 2013. This is one reason why affordable tablets and smartphones will proliferate further. Low budget tablet makers really don't feel the need to jump the high-end tablet space and seem to be happy in their space. Amul Mittal, Co-founder, Zync Global Private Limited, says, “Zync’s aim is to provide quality products and solutions at an affordable price. A high-end product need not bleed the pockets; we are dedicated to provide high-end technology at the most affordable cost to the consumer. A majority part of India is still price sensitive and holds a lot of potential. We are looking at continuing the same trend with better and advanced products at low price points.” He also predicts the next year could see a slew of 4G tablets, and Zync is also gearing up foray into the 4G segment.
Amul Mittal, Co-founder, Zync Global Private Limited
Mr. Tuli of Datawind, who has been instrumental in the low-end, low-cost tablet trend, says, “We are not planning to enter high-end tablet space so far. Our motive is to empower niche segment of the society and provide them with affordable technology devices.” He plans expanded form-factors to include 5”, 9” and 14” displays, in addition to 3G and 4G units for 2013, and predicts that in the next 24 months, the tablet market would exceed the size of the computer market in India – i.e. 10 million units/year.
Don't write off PC just yet
With smartphones and tablets taking over the market at a fast pace, many believed that the PC era was about to end. Even reports from research firms like Gartner and many others points to this possibility; in fact, Gartner’s report for the third quarter 2012 revealed that India PC market had declined by 5.9 percent. However, the launch of Windows 8 could give PC a fresh lease of life. Windows 8 has tried to craft a platform which will be instrumental in reshaping the entire mobile and desktop space. With the dual nature of its OS, Microsoft has tried to form space for all types of devices ranging from hybrids, convertibles, AIOs and so on. Microsoft says that its Windows 8 is Windows reimagined – from the chipset to the user experience. “It gives you all the things you know and love about the desktop and gives you a modern user interface that’s beautiful, deeply personalised, fast and fluid. Consumers no longer have to choose between the convenience of a tablet and the productivity of a PC.”
Vinay Shetty, Country Head – Component Business, ASUS (India), points out to another factor that may have affected the PC market; he explains, “2012 was a slow year for PC components largely due to a reduced assembler market caused by Thailand floods, rupee devaluation and hard disk price inflation. The hard disk prices have now stabilised and there will definitely be an upward trend in the assembler market and PC component sales in the coming year.”
Eben Upton, co-founder, Raspberry Pi Foundation
Even Lenovo’s Rajesh Thadani believes that it’s too soon to write-off the PC. He says it will continue to drive growth and innovation in PCs while expanding their business across the four screens (PC, tablet, smartphone, smart TV) of devices and into the ecosystem of cloud services and other applications that enable the PC+ era. He explained, “We will continue to enhance our product portfolio by introducing new products, including different sized tablets, power-packed ultrabooks, feature-rich AIOs and robust notebooks that run on the leading operating systems. Lenovo is fully committed to the future of the PC industry for the long run and is confident that it will continue to outperform and outgrow the market.”
However, some beg to differ, like Eben Upton, the co-founder of Raspberry Pi. He says, “I think that the desktop segment will continue to shrink at the expense of notebooks and tablets. Only a minority of people (hardcore gamers, engineers) actually derive any benefit from the desktop form factor.” He also predicts continued softness in the PC component space, driven by the rise of tablets.
Cameras to go social
The camera industry has been evolving over the years with elevated features of higher resolutions, better lenses, increased zoom and so on, but this year laid the stepping stone as cameras added connectivity to their gamut of features. Direct sharing via cameras with support for Wi-Fi and also 3G (Samsung Galaxy camera) seem to be hinting what’s up the sleeve for cameras next year. Clearly, next year is going to be all about Internet or socially-connected cameras giving preference to sharing on the go.
Sajjan Kumar, Vice President – Imaging, Nikon India
Sajjan Kumar, Vice President – Imaging, Nikon India, predicts, “The near future for camera industry will revolve around the camera that fits into the stay connected anywhere, anytime zone. With the arrival of Wi-Fi enabled and Android based cameras, the next step could be cloud and social integration. Cameras can look for the technology to seamlessly incorporate with the cloud, providing limitless storage and accessibility to users. With ‘social’ being the buzz word, cameras will possess capabilities and features that will enable users to instantly upload captured images to Facebook and other social networking websites.” He further adds that advanced cameras with interchangeable-lens would be the brightest spots in the market.
Parveen Sahni, Director - Imaging Communication Products, Canon India, thinks likewise and Canon would be focusing on Wi-Fi enabled cameras, among other things. Canon will also be focusing to minimise environmental burden through effective application of technologies. “Some of the current technology innovations of 2012 will remain our focus for the new year as well, especially on the features like Wi-Fi enabled cameras, Super zoom technology, Wide bright lens and fastest AF and 30X optical zoom,” adds Parveen.