Hybrid devices are leading the growth in the mobile PC market and should reach 21.5 million units this year, an increase of 70 percent from 2014, according to Gartner. Eight million of these will be ultramobile tablets (two-in-one tablets) and 13.5 million hybrid ultramobiles (two-in-one detachable and convertible ultramobiles).
“This will make hybrid ultramobiles the fastest-growing segment of the mobile PC market with 77 percent year-on-year growth,” said Tracy Tsai, Research Director of Gartner.
“The combination of portability, productivity and flexibility of touch and a keyboard in one device is attracting some notebook and tablet users to replace their devices with hybrid form factors. PC vendors are expanding into this segment with a value proposition to compete with Apple and Android-based tablet vendors. Sales of hybrid devices have not stopped growing since 2012, totaling 12.6 million units in 2014 and expected to reach 58 million units in 2019,” she added.
Gartner analysts added that, despite hybrid devices achieving strong growth, clam shells will remain the mainstream form factor, accounting for 87 percent of mobile PCs in 2015 and 74 percent in 2019.
PC vendors are expanding into hybrid devices for notebook and tablet users — the primary targets for the hybrid form factor. According to a Gartner survey of more than 21,000 respondents from the US, China, Brazil, India, and Germany, as many as 11 percent of tablet users, 10 percent of desktop users and eight per cent of notebook users are considering replacing their current device with a hybrid device in the next two years.
In the enterprise segment, IT departments are struggling to make a compelling case to purchase hybrid ultramobiles for users because the PC installed base is predominantly Windows 7 and legacy applications are not touch-based.
“However, this will change when businesses start to migrate to Windows 10. Windows 10 on hybrid ultramobiles will offer a better user experience with touch and voice as well as universal Windows apps — apps written just once that receive device-specific user experience tweaks to allow them to run on different Windows devices,” said Tsai.
Businesses will also need to prepare for the end of extended Windows 7 support by January 2020. It is now a good time to look beyond the clamshell notebook to consider if other form factors will make a better productivity fit.
Asus, the first vendor to introduce a two-in-one ultramobile, was the top hybrid ultramobile device vendor in 2014 with 41 percent market share. Asus shipped 3.1 million hybrid ultramobile units, up 263 percent year on year. To keep up its market share, Asus needs to increase investment in convertible-type hybrids with smaller screen sizes of less than 13 inches, and broaden the price bands it addresses. Currently, hybrid ultramobiles are accounting for 15 percent of Asus’ mobile PC shipments in 2014, the highest mix ratio among all PC vendors.
Lenovo took the second spot in 2014 with 1.9 million shipments of hybrid ultramobiles, an increase of 331 percent year on year. HP was the third largest player in the hybrid ultramobile market in 2014, selling 800,000 units. In 2014, HP significantly expanded its product line in this segment with a broad range of consumer models across a variety of price points, from US$199 to US$1,999. This enabled the company to rise from the seventh in 2013.
Microsoft’s Surface is classified as a tablet ultramobile rather than a hybrid ultramobile under Gartner’s definition, as the touch-and-type keyboard is optional. In the ultramobile tablet segment, Microsoft was first with 36 percent market share in 2014. Combining the ultramobile hybrid and the ultramobile tablet, Microsoft was third with 14 percent market share worldwide, just behind Asus and Lenovo.