Supply chain
Why Apple should make a 2-in-1 notebook
Alex Wolfgram, DIGITIMES, Taipei
Friday 6 September 2013

As competition in the tablet segment continues to increase and as notebook vendors are either seeing stagnant or in some cases declining sales of notebooks, vendors such as Apple need to think about making 2-in-1 notebook products (both tablet and notebook combined) in order to revitalize their notebook growth as well as give an edge over their competitors.

According to most market estimations, tablet shipments are expected to reach over 180 million units in 2013 and some research firms even estimate that number will double in 2014 while notebook shipments are expected to show flat growth over the two-year period. These trends in the market show that consumers want cheaper and more mobile PC solutions, making tablets the new mainstream for PC usage and notebooks an old trend.

However, consumers are coming to find that tablets do not meet all of their PC needs. One survey conducted by Forester Research found that 62% of knowledge workers in North America and Europe want keyboards with their tablets. Such surveys in addition to Forrester's are starting to pop up, indicating that consumers are trying to find ways to have their tablet further act as a notebook. While it may seem easy that consumers will simply purchase a keyboard to solve this issue, consumers are also beginning to realize that tablets are no match for notebooks in terms of speed and overall performance, which is likely to remain so at least in the near future.

As a result, consumers at large are left with a choice of either purchasing a notebook or tablet, or a tablet in addition to a second-hand notebook/desktop in order to get the best of mobility, power and pricing advantages. Additionally, the general vibe of consumers seems to be that notebook prices have gotten to steep and that it is not worth purchasing both a new tablet and a notebook; hence, they are vouching for tablets while notebooks are left in the dust with mostly second-hand units being passed around.

Solution: How about a two-in-one notebook?

Such a product is not new in the market but it is far from being widely popularized. Companies such as Apple could benefit a lot from such a product. Consumers could justify investing more money into a computer product that would give them the conventient usage of a tablet and the option of power and performance in a notebook rather than throwing down US$2,000 for a notebook that is minimal in use. If Apple were to make the move it could set the new standard for notebook usage in the market and could potentially charge the same for such a unit as it would if consumers were to purchase both an Apple tablet and notebook, giving the company a hike in innovation and potentially in profits.

Apple is increasingly facing competitors in the notebook segment as other vendors are putting out ultrabook and high-resolution units. The company needs to have more value-added to its products now to re-set the bar and gain back market share.

Recently, rumors have been spreading in the market that Apple is working on a 13.3-inch tablet panel. This could be a great opportunity for Apple to further explore the idea of using the technology and incorporating as a detachable panel from the notebook for tablet use. However, don't expect to see such a product released at Apple's event on September 10, 2013.

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