Asus may have a hand in producing Google’s refreshed Nexus 10 Android tablet, but recent remarks from the company’s chief executive reveal that the Taiwanese company is turning up its nose at the prospect of making another Windows RT-powered tablet entirely.
“It’s not only our opinion,” CEO Jerry Shen remarked to the Wall Street Journal. “The industry sentiment is also that Windows RT has not been successful.”
And how many RT tablet models did Asus need to make before it came to this conclusion? Just one: the VivoTab RT (three models if you include its cellular variants).
Now Asus may not be the most prominent of Microsoft’s RT hardware partners, but in an age where a surprising number of people are buying tablets in lieu of more traditional PCs the snub is a prominent one. The company would apparently rather continue making full-blown Windows 8 tablets and notebooks rather than dump resources into a new RT tablet and hoping people into buying them. And can you blame them? Even Microsoft’s Surface — arguably the Windows RT flagship, mind you — is a dog. Who could forget that Microsoft had to write down a whopping $900 million of Surface RT inventory because people just didn’t buy them.
Shen is absolutely right though: Asus is certainly not alone in panning RT as a platform worth building on. HP and Toshiba both had RT devices in development but axed them prior they ever hit the market. HTC reportedly canned a 12-inch Windows RT tablet, despite the fact it’s arguably too invested in Android. Even Nokia, Microsoft’s Windows Phone darling, is said to have dumped Windows RT in favor of full-on Windows 8 for its first (and oft-rumored) tablet in years.
Naturally, not every company has been so quick to distance itself from Windows RT’s controversial embrace. NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang confirmed to CNET yesterday that the chipmaker is working closely with Microsoft on a second generation Surface RT tablet, and hopes that the devices will be a “big success”. Of course, that very same day Huang also indirectly pointed to the original Surface as one of the reasons the company’s quarterly Tegra sales revenue is expected to be so wimpy — to hear him say it, NVIDIA doesn’t “expect as much returns on that investment as we originally hoped”. Bummer.
Despite loud claims to the contrary, Microsoft isn’t going to let Windows RT go down without a fight. The problem is that even Microsoft seems unsure of which direction to take here — larger tablets like the Surface RT and its cousins haven’t managed to resonate with consumers. What about working with OEMs to create some smaller, cheaper RT tablets that could theoretically compete with devices like the iPad mini? It’s an intriguing thought… until you remember Microsoft relaxed its own standards to let device manufacturers load up full versions of Windows 8 on a generation of new, smaller tablets. Where is RT supposed to fit in now? That’s the $64,000 question, and plenty of OEMs don’t even want to try answering it anymore.
IDC is out today with its latest report tracking worldwide tablet shipments, reporting that total shipments have experienced a sequential decline during Q2 at the expense of Apple and the iPad. Apple already announced that it had sold 14.6 million iPads during the quarter, a significant drop from the 17 million it sold in the year ago quarter, but today IDC gives us some insight into where that puts Apple in its lead over Samsung as the top tablet vendor.
Apple was able to pick up 32.4% of the market during Q2, continuing its lead as the top tablet manufacturer, but dropping from the 60.3% of the market it had in Q2 last year. While Apple’s tablet shipments are clearly suffering from lack of new product announcements this year, it’s also losing share to Samsung and others. IDC reports 277% year over year growth for Samsung, giving it 18% of the market with 8.1 million units shipped during Q2. All of the top 3 vendors– Apple, Samsung, and ASUS– experienced a drop compared to Q1 2013, but the Android tablet makers have experienced significant growth compared to Apple since last year.
Now, Apple is expected to launch new tablet products in the second half of the year, a move that better positions it to compete during the holiday season. Meanwhile, the other two vendors in the top 3 also saw a decline in their unit shipments during the quarter. Second-place Samsung shipped 8.1 million units, down from 8.6 million in the first quarter of 2013, although up significantly from the 2.1 million units shipped in 2Q12. And third-place ASUS shipped a total of 2.0 million units in 2Q13, down from 2.6 million in 1Q13.
While total shipments dropped -9.7% over Q1 2013, IDC notes that 45.1 million total units shipped is actually up 59.6% from Q2 last year, thanks largely to growth from Samsung followed by Asus, Lenovo, and Acer.
Not all vendors experienced a slowdown during the quarter. PC stalwarts Lenovo and Acer both re-entered the top five this quarter. Lenovo continued to make headway into the world of mobility and for the first time had shipments surpass the million unit mark in a quarter, shipping a total of 1.5 million devices. This was up 313.9% from a year ago and enough to capture 3.3% market share. Rounding out the top 5 was Acer, which shipped 1.4 million tablets in 2Q13 for 247.9% year-over-year growth and an increase of 35.4% over the first quarter of 2013.
As always, IDC’s numbers reflect shipments of branded tablets, not sales, and “exclude OEM sales for all vendors.”
We told you a few days ago about ASUS launching a 31.5-inch 4k monitor, and predicted that today’s Macs would struggle to drive it. The Verge has now confirmed this, by briefly hooking it up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.
Tangible lag was introduced when working in more demanding applications like Adobe’s Lightroom, while the mouse cursor also exhibited a troublingly low refresh rate …
As The Verge acknowledges, it’s not a very robust test as OS X won’t output directly at 4k resolution, but it does suggest that we will indeed need to wait for the next-generation of Haswell-powered Macs to take advantage of this kind of display. That’s the bad news.
The good news? The price, now revealed. While $3,799 is still rather eye-watering for most of us, it’s actually a pretty remarkable price-point to hit for a 4k monitor given that it’s not so long ago you couldn’t get one for less than five figures.
Asus has already been experimenting with mixing Android and Windows in the same device with its bizarre but intriguing 18.5-inch Transformer All-in-One desktop