Will the Intel-Rockchip partnership transform market?

2014-12-12

 Last month, the International Data Corporation (IDC) released a new report in which it forecast that worldwide tablet growth would slow down to 7.2 percent, down from an astronomical 52.3 percent increase from the previous year. This is in addition to the first full year decline of Apple iPads.

Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers, attempted to explain the dramatic decline in tablet by alluding to the fact that it was initially believed the device lifecycles would mimic that of smart phones, which would usually be between two and three years. Today, tablet owners are holding on to their mobile devices for as much as four years.

The IDC executive added that consumers are using their smart phones for a lot of their tasks, something that contributes greatly to the lifespan of tablets due to inactivity and longer battery power.

Meanwhile, others believe there have been unrealistic expectations of the tablet market, which was generated due to the early success of the mobile industry. Analysts argue this drop in growth is unprecedented because previous hot consumer electronics, such as microwaves and color televisions, don't usually experience a significant dip until the half the market owns the product - at the present time, 40 percent of American consumers own a tablet.

Despite the trend in the tablet market, a report released from market research firm Gartner projected that by 2018 consumers will opt to use a smart phone or a tablet instead of a personal computer or a laptop. This suggests that mobile devices are still popular among consumers.

"The use pattern that has emerged for nearly all consumers [including workers], based on device accessibility, is the smart phone first as a device that is carried when mobile, followed by the tablet that is used in longer sessions, with the PC increasingly reserved for more complex tasks,” said Gartner analyst Van Baker, in a statement

What can reverse the aforementioned trend in tablet sales? Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director for Tablets, notes that the tablet industry must push ahead with new developments to respond to many of the consumer demands and challenges placed each day.

"We need to look at how the tablet ecosystem is answering these challenges, and right now we see a lot of pressure on tablet prices and an influx of entry-level products, which ultimately serves Android really well," said Bouchard in a statement. "But we also see tablet manufacturers trying to offset this price pressure by focusing on larger screens and cellular-enabled tablets. The next six months should be really interesting."

It was announced in November that Intel and Chinese chip maker Rockchip have created a partnership to produce processors for inexpensive smart phones, tablets and other types of mobile devices. The first item to be manufactured from the collaboration is the XMM6321 dual-core 3G communication chip, which will soon be available in the coming months in Android tablets, smart phones and phablets (a conglomeration of phones and tablets).

The chip has been lauded for its clock speed of one GHz, support of display resolutions of 854 x 480 or 1024 x 600 pixels, handling of 1080p HD video decoding at 30 frames per second and its enabling of 8MP rear and 3MP front cameras, 720P HD video encoding at 24 frames per second and OpenGL ES 2.0.

With emerging markets, including China, seeking out low-cost mobile devices, it's these types of developments and innovations in the mobile market that can help boost sales once again moving forward, especially considering that consumers will choose mobile devices instead of PCs in the near future.

Besides, this is something that needs to happen for an array of companies, including Intel, which confirmed that it has been losing money for quite some time because it has been sitting on the sidelines for way too long.

"We’re fighting our way back into a market. We will improve this. We will not accept a business to lose billions of dollars. We are getting back in," said Andy Bryant, Intel’s board chairman, at a recent conference.

In the end, it all comes down to tablets doing something different in the near future and functioning just as well, or even more so, as a standard personal computer or laptop.

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