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Lenovo: PC Industry Underestimated Demand for Touch

By - Source: CNET | B 19 comments

The industry missed the boat in regards to predicting the current craze for touch-based desktops and laptops.

In a recent interview with CNET, Lenovo's president of the North American region, Gerry Smith, said that the PC industry underestimated the popularity of touch.

The news is a little surprising given that a good number of the computing public uses a touch-based smartphone, tablet ot handheld console. The obvious desire to manipulate images, apps and other virtual objects with a fingertip should be seemingly clear, a trend that Microsoft even sniffed out and focused on when developing Windows 8. Trouble is, you'll be hard pressed to find a desktop or laptop that actually supports touch on the market today.

Naturally the cost of adding touch-based capabilities has been a huge factor for manufacturers, but prior to the launch of Windows 8, there was also a general consensus that there simply wasn't a huge demand for touchscreens. But the industry was wrong, and the immediate high demand for touch-based desktops and laptops has left OEMs unable to keep up with the demand.

Up until October 26, the industry was hoping that the launch of Windows 8 would reinvigorate the PC market. But according to NPD, sales of Windows-based devices actually dropped 21-percent during the initial four-week launch compared to the same time period in 2011. On the other hand, touchscreen desktop sales are actually doing better than expected, but the numbers are limited because vendors weren't prepared for the high demand.

"As you go through any major architectural transition, you try to forecast accurately how much the attach rate will be on touch [or other features]," Smith said. "Across every major [shift] over the past 10 years, we're never right. The learning is, how do you respond to that? How does the industry change and evolve?"

Moving forward, he said the industry will have to determine how "off" it was about the demand for touchscreens, and to figure out what it can do to prevent a similar scenario in the future. Smith said the touch panel supply is improving, and more touch capacity should be available in the first half of 2013 to help meet consumer demand.

Smith also noted that this improvement in supply is crucial, and more and more computers will likely switch over to touch-based panels. Even Lenovo predicts that 50-percent of its desktops and laptops – excluding tablets and smartphones – will sport touchscreen within the next two or three years.

Missing the touch-based forecast was actually great news, he said, because if touch turned out to be a disaster, then OEMs would have had a frightening stockpile of unsold products. "I view it selling well, a shortage, everyone chasing supply as a huge positive because it shows market potential and it shows a huge market opportunity," Smith said.

Despite the current supply shortage, Smith said that Lenovo is experiencing strong sales of its non-touch PCs. Even more, he's noticed that sales of premium-priced computers are growing faster than other PC segments. Lenovo is a little different than the others, he said, an anomaly in the global PC market thanks to its high exposure in China.

While the company has consistently been gaining market share, competitors like HP and Dell have pulled back, CNET reports. Currently Lenovo is pegged as the largest PC vendor on the planet (although IDC disagrees, favoring HP), and the company is looking to dominate the North American market as well.

 

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  • 10 Hide
    YardstickWHACK , December 7, 2012 5:32 PM
    matt_bConsumer: Microsoft overestimated the PC industry's demand for touch with Windows 8. "Touch" devices have their role and it's still the new thing out there. Sales should be strong for sometime. Power users, IT, and gamers want nothing of it and I feel that due to this current fad explosion, the rest of the market moved too fast and left the actual base of the "non-touch" users out in the cold. It's a split market, it's a shame that the actual PC users here got shafted so fast - not everyone wants or can utilize a Surface, Kindle, Ipad, etc.

    This is precisely why Windows 8 is selling poorly. In contrast, touch hardware is also very much in demand because someone looking to buy a new computer can not find Windows 7 very easily. This them leads them to wonder why they would purchase a computer with Windows 8 and not get touch capabilities. "Touch" is not in demand, just the hardware because people are being force-fed touch software.
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    matt_b , December 7, 2012 5:23 PM
    Consumer: Microsoft overestimated the PC industry's demand for touch with Windows 8.

    "Touch" devices have their role and it's still the new thing out there. Sales should be strong for sometime. Power users, IT, and gamers want nothing of it and I feel that due to this current fad explosion, the rest of the market moved too fast and left the actual base of the "non-touch" users out in the cold. It's a split market, it's a shame that the actual PC users here got shafted so fast - not everyone wants or can utilize a Surface, Kindle, Ipad, etc.
  • 10 Hide
    YardstickWHACK , December 7, 2012 5:32 PM
    matt_bConsumer: Microsoft overestimated the PC industry's demand for touch with Windows 8. "Touch" devices have their role and it's still the new thing out there. Sales should be strong for sometime. Power users, IT, and gamers want nothing of it and I feel that due to this current fad explosion, the rest of the market moved too fast and left the actual base of the "non-touch" users out in the cold. It's a split market, it's a shame that the actual PC users here got shafted so fast - not everyone wants or can utilize a Surface, Kindle, Ipad, etc.

    This is precisely why Windows 8 is selling poorly. In contrast, touch hardware is also very much in demand because someone looking to buy a new computer can not find Windows 7 very easily. This them leads them to wonder why they would purchase a computer with Windows 8 and not get touch capabilities. "Touch" is not in demand, just the hardware because people are being force-fed touch software.
  • 7 Hide
    Onus , December 7, 2012 5:32 PM
    ^Exactly. Touch is for smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices, not at all for PCs.
  • 0 Hide
    Parsian , December 7, 2012 5:39 PM
    If I am going to use Win8, I want to have touch capability on my form factor "." Give me a Surface Pro like device with touch+stylus capability, and I will be all over it. Ive been using Tablet PC's for a while and I cannot find a substitute other than another Tablet PC (touch would be a bonus just as better batter and more portability are always welcome)
  • 0 Hide
    bllue , December 7, 2012 5:42 PM
    matt_bConsumer: Microsoft overestimated the PC industry's demand for touch with Windows 8. "Touch" devices have their role and it's still the new thing out there. Sales should be strong for sometime. Power users, IT, and gamers want nothing of it and I feel that due to this current fad explosion, the rest of the market moved too fast and left the actual base of the "non-touch" users out in the cold. It's a split market, it's a shame that the actual PC users here got shafted so fast - not everyone wants or can utilize a Surface, Kindle, Ipad, etc.

    It's just in their best interest to market to the majority. No one should be shocked that power users and gamers get "shafted." Why market to a few dozen millions when you could do it for hundreds of million?
  • 2 Hide
    bystander , December 7, 2012 7:10 PM
    I most definitely believe this will be true. For starters, laptops have always been a pain in the butt to use with their touchpad. It works, but touch will be a huge improvement and my next laptop/convertible will definitely have touch.

    Then you have a lot of users who have computers and laptops that see no reason to upgrade unless they gain something new. That is where touch screens come in. Touch screens give the consumer a reason to buy a new computer, even if they didn't need it, they see it as something they would like to have.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 7, 2012 8:26 PM
    This guy must be retarded! People do NOT want to use their fingertips for direct interface with everything! This is why we started out with switches, knobs, then keyboards and a mouse. This is why we've stuck with the Keyboard and mouse for decades. Touch screens of many varieties have been around for decades as well, and they have PROVEN to be useless for desktop computing. They are inaccurate, messy (finger prints / dirt on screen), and an annoyance. Where a touch interface has been needed, they have been built in the past. Light pens for radar operators for example, or touch sensitive pens for artists, but that's where they'll stay, PERIOD!
  • 2 Hide
    bystander , December 7, 2012 9:08 PM
    JustPosting94This guy must be retarded! People do NOT want to use their fingertips for direct interface with everything! This is why we started out with switches, knobs, then keyboards and a mouse. This is why we've stuck with the Keyboard and mouse for decades. Touch screens of many varieties have been around for decades as well, and they have PROVEN to be useless for desktop computing. They are inaccurate, messy (finger prints / dirt on screen), and an annoyance. Where a touch interface has been needed, they have been built in the past. Light pens for radar operators for example, or touch sensitive pens for artists, but that's where they'll stay, PERIOD!

    You can't lump everyone into your box. People said the same thing about the first iPhone, look how that turned out. Laptops desperately need improvement on their input device and I do know non-enthusiasts who have gone for touch PC's, that are quite happy with their choice.

    I agree that I am not ready for move to a touch screen PC, but that doesn't mean Joe public is not going to want to move to one. It is one of the few things that would motivate Joe public to go out and upgrade a working PC.
  • 0 Hide
    meluvcookies , December 7, 2012 9:20 PM
    The real problem is that MS could have produced a OS that offered two fully realized UIs without the obvious compromises (or laziness, depending on your perspective) that we see in Win8. Had they done this, then it wouldn't matter whether your platform is a non-touch laptop, a touch (or convertible laptop/tablet, or dedicated tablet

    Give end-users the option of being able to decide for themselves which UI they find most productive/practical for their purposes.

    Instead, MS released a half-baked middle ground that frustrates non-touch users (start button, inability to boot do desktop), and touch users alike. A shame really, because it "coulda been a contendah"
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 7, 2012 9:32 PM
    Microsoft has ruined the accessibility features of the windows UI with It's Metro/Modern UI on the desktop! It has also removed many visual cues users need, such as button press animation, and the flat color plane makes it harder to see the boarders which define the Active and non-Active areas inside the windows! Windows 7 is assured a long life beacuse Windows 8 is just to difficult to use with a mouse, and the mouse is the best way for persons with arm, hand or sholder problems to interface with the desktop, two finger touch pads require the user to lift their hand above the pad to use it, while using a mouse lets the user rest their hand on the table while sliding the mouse a short distence to achieve an amplified movement around a screen of any size!
  • 0 Hide
    kensingtron , December 7, 2012 9:56 PM
    I could totally get on board with win * for my HTPC and this:
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-32973_3-57481001-296/gesture-control-coming-to-windows-8-computers/

    I think the supplementary option to control existing PC's with motion is a plus
  • 0 Hide
    ttcboy , December 7, 2012 10:24 PM
    I can understand that touch screen is a must have for hand held devices and tablets but for "PC" ???

    How the hell we can work/play with our hands up in air, poking at ur monitor for 1hr, let alone 8hrs for working.

    Just stretch ur hand in the air for 10mins and u'll know what i mean.
  • 0 Hide
    matt_b , December 7, 2012 10:43 PM
    bllueIt's just in their best interest to market to the majority. No one should be shocked that power users and gamers get "shafted." Why market to a few dozen millions when you could do it for hundreds of million?

    How easy would it have been to market a Windows 8 PC and tablet edition? Microsoft is very well-known to have marketed more than one edition at a time, why put all their focus on only one aspect of the market and ignore the other half that has been there since the inception of the PC market?
  • 0 Hide
    halcyon , December 7, 2012 10:54 PM
    meluvcookiesThe real problem is that MS could have produced a OS that offered two fully realized UIs without the obvious compromises (or laziness, depending on your perspective) that we see in Win8. Had they done this, then it wouldn't matter whether your platform is a non-touch laptop, a touch (or convertible laptop/tablet, or dedicated tabletGive end-users the option of being able to decide for themselves which UI they find most productive/practical for their purposes.Instead, MS released a half-baked middle ground that frustrates non-touch users (start button, inability to boot do desktop), and touch users alike. A shame really, because it "coulda been a contendah"
    With Start 8 this has been done and done better than MS would have. Stardock should win some kind of award for Start 8.
  • 0 Hide
    bystander , December 7, 2012 11:17 PM
    ttcboyI can understand that touch screen is a must have for hand held devices and tablets but for "PC" ???How the hell we can work/play with our hands up in air, poking at ur monitor for 1hr, let alone 8hrs for working. Just stretch ur hand in the air for 10mins and u'll know what i mean.

    I assume you can still use a mouse and touch, so you can pick and choose how you work with it. I'm not saying that is what I'm after, but a side effect of people using touch screens may be that people who normally get no physical activity during their work day, now have a means to stay fitter. Just throwing that out there.
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , December 8, 2012 2:07 AM
    Maybe touch would do well on laptops but I don't see how it's going to be useful on larger screens.

    halcyonWith Start 8 this has been done and done better than MS would have. Stardock should win some kind of award for Start 8.


    They'll be lucky if they don't get bought up and dismantled.
  • 0 Hide
    bystander , December 8, 2012 3:52 AM
    killerclickMaybe touch would do well on laptops but I don't see how it's going to be useful on larger screens.

    I don't think the size of the screen has anything to do with it, but I'd agree of its limited use when dealing with a desktop computer with a mouse present. It doesn't seem that useful, but then again, it isn't anti productive either.

    I'll personally be waiting on my PC, as I don't find it that appealing at the desktop, but I know those who disagree with me and have desktop touch screens, even before Win 8. I'll definitely be looking for it on a laptop or other portable computing.

    killerclickThey'll be lucky if they don't get bought up and dismantled.

    Since the lead designer has been let go or left the company, it has come to light that the forcing of using the Metro style is no longer in their plans. If they dismantle that company, it'll only be after they patch Win 8 to do it without the need of that app.
  • 0 Hide
    lothdk , December 8, 2012 10:24 AM
    I have about 100 teachers all asking when they get Windows 8 and a new touchbased laptop to go with it.
    For use in education they see this as a great "new" tool.
    It is actually not easy getting a new laptop with touch unless going for the top of the line products, and those still cost a bit too much when looking at the volume some of us would want to purchase, simply because they have unnecessary features that just add extra cost to the product (for our use).
  • 0 Hide
    ravewulf , December 9, 2012 4:10 PM
    I actually had an hp tx2500 touch/pen convertible laptop until it broke a year ago (motherboard failure). While I didn't use touch most of the time and it wasn't essential it was fun to use every once in a while.

    The most common thing I did with it was to switch between windows by tapping on the taskbar. I did that often enough that when I went to use a friend's laptop I tapped on their screen before remembering that only my laptop had touch.