Unnamed sources from notebook vendors told DigiTimes that Intel is pushing hybrid notebooks that use Google's Android operating system, form factors that can be used as both a notebook and a tablet thanks to a detachable keyboard. China-based Lenovo is supposedly the first on the list to produce such a device, an 11-inch Android-based Yoga notebook slated for a May release.
According to the report, many other OEMs are jumping on the Android-based hybrid bandwagon as well including HP, Toshiba, Acer and Asus with models hitting the streets in the third quarter. Sources claim that Intel has estimated the retail "sweet spot" to be around $500 USD, mirroring a statement made by Intel CEO Paul Otellini last week.
The news shouldn't be surprising given all the recent talk about how disappointed OEMs have been with Windows 8. Microsoft's new touchy update has been partially blamed for the dramatic drop in PC sales over the last several quarters. Yet while Microsoft is making slow progress in the smartphone and tablet sectors, it's currently still not enough to fend off the more lucrative Android and iOS solutions.
Earlier this week Otellini hinted during the company's first-quarter earnings conference call to Windows 8 devices with a smaller form factor and a smaller price point. These inexpensive designs will be based on Intel's upcoming quad-core "Bay Trail" 22-nm chip, the first complete redesign of the Atom micro architecture since it debuted in 2008.
"If you look at touch-enabled Intel-based notebooks that are ultrathin using [Bay Trail] processors, those prices are going to be down to as low as $200," he said. Otellini also predicted that more standard Ultrabook designs sporting the upcoming Haswell chip will likely reside within the $499 price range.
This is not the first time we've heard about Android on notebooks this year. DigiTimes coughed up another story earlier this month claiming that "Androidbooks" may march into the market by the end of 3Q13 or the beginning of 4Q13. Given that Intel released the x86 image of Android 4.2 "Jelly Bean" last year for Atom-based chips, and that Google doesn't charge a licensing fee to use Android, the idea is far from being farfetched.
Sources claim these Intel-based Android hybrids will attract strong demand because (1) consumers are highly familiar with Android and (2) Google has brought Quickoffice to Android for editing Microsoft Office files. Of course, the latter is part of Google Apps for Business, but should make Android more competitive against a Windows 8 solution in the home or office.
Recently ZDNet reported that many PC OEMs are unhappy with Microsoft and what it has done with the Windows platform. One OEM source supposedly said that Microsoft is destroying the PC industry while another said that Microsoft has driven millions of customers over to Apple. Based on the DigiTimes report, OEMS are flocking to Android to produce lucrative solutions to make up for the revenue void that Windows 8 has seemingly left behind.