PCs move out of the show's limelight

Tablets, smartphones and TVs got more attention this year

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

The PC market is weak with traditional laptops and desktops no longer the centerpiece of IT, said IDC research director David Daoud, who was not surprised that the PC presence was subdued at CES. The PC market is in the process of a reboot, Daoud said. New thin-and-light laptop designs are being developed with tablet-like features such as touchscreens and detachable hinges, which could attract a whole new set of buyers.

"That's going to take a bit of time to sort out consumer attitudes and get full acceptance," Daoud said.

A number of PCs due for release this year were also announced in tandem with Windows 8, which is perhaps why companies made no major PC announcements at CES.

"Still, consumers are attracted to all-things tablets, iPads, accessories and gadgets, and so it's no surprise that PCs took a back stage," Daoud said.

The PC market was largely represented by Intel, which showed off a range of ultrabooks with its latest chips. But Microsoft was missing after a big presence last year to raise awareness for Windows 8, which was released on PCs in late October. PC makers such as Acer and Lenovo piggybacked on Microsoft at last year's CES, announcing new ultrabooks and PCs running the new OS.

With the PC market in transition, the mix of players at CES is shifting, as marked by the hand off of the opening keynote from Microsoft to Qualcomm, Endpoint Technologies' Kay said.

Some unfinished hybrid ultrabook designs and tablets with wireless connectivity were shown by device makers and those products could be officially announced at MWC, Kay said.

Michael Walkley, managing director and senior equity analyst at financial firm Canaccord Genuity, agreed with Kay, saying MWC has always been important when it comes to wireless technology, and is gaining in importance.

"MWC is a huge wireless show, I've attended for 14 years now. To me it has always been significant, but it may be growing given the growth in smartphones and tablets versus PCs," Walkley said.

Although CES appears to be shifting away from PCs, it will always remain a solid show for the latest in consumer electronics, analysts agreed.

"There is a great deal of creativity and innovation brought about in the rise of these new generations of electronic devices and that provides CES an opportunity to do well," IDC's Daoud said. "On the other hand, the industry has other choices as well and that means more competition for CES."

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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