Forget Apple & Samsung, Here Come the Convertibles

Joshua is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

I've been following the consumer electronics industry for about six years now, and what Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and its partners have been preparing for the last six months or so is sure to change the game with tablets and laptops alike. You better get ready for it.

Tablets and laptops seem, to some, like apples and oranges, and it's actually why Microsoft was criticized left and right for its Windows 8 operating system back in October. Let's face it, it was an OS made for touchscreens - something that most laptops and PCs at the time plainly lacked. However, it's been four months since Windows 8 hit the shelves, and if you've been so much as glancing at the major manufacturers, namely Lenovo (NASDAQOTH: LNVGY) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), then you'd have noticed they're finally starting to catch up with Microsoft's innovations - and Apple and Samsung alike should be worried. What we're finally seeing hit the shelves are what Windows 8 should have launched with: convertible tablet PCs.

Convertible tablet PCs come in a lot of names, shapes, and sizes, but as far as you should be concerned, they're the future of all consumer electronics. I'm not kidding either; CES was chock-full of convertible tablet PCs, ranging from laptops with detachable screens to desktop computers you lie on the table and play board games with. In this case, all the top manufacturers have begun to roll out Windows 8 and Windows RT devices that double as both laptops and tablets, featuring a seamless Windows experience along the way. As a result, the convertibles, ranging from $400 to $1200 in price, can satisfy the needs of just about any customer. Whether you want serious gaming, serious portability, or serious business tools, a convertible tablet PC of some kind will exist to suit your needs. For example, if you're looking for serious portability, Lenovo isn't new to the world of convertible tablet pcs with its ThinkPad line, and it's already saying the future of all its new laptops will very likely be convertible tablet PCs. Lenovo's new ideaTab Lynx PC is already getting rave reviews as not only being a "shockingly light" tablet, but also an impressive one with a battery built into the keyboard. Right away the Lenovo ideaTab Lynx is throwing into the ring a powerful tablet PC with a superb battery life, and price tag identical to an iPad.

This reality however is the same with HP, Dell, Acer, and a consortium of other PC manufacturers, and Microsoft is orchestrating it all to ensure they stay reelvant. If the reality of Dell going private, or HP's recent 16% income decline are any clue as to how desparate these manufacturers have become, then it's easy to see how much they're setting their eyes on the tablet market. Thanks to Windows 8, Microsoft is giving them all the tools they need to accomplish it too. Instead of playing a war of attrition with Android, Windows 8 gives them an ace in the hole.

Now why should Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Samsung be so worried? Look at it this way; Windows is just too versatile to compete with in the long run. Apple's iOS and Samsung's Android tablets both have their advantages in the vast app stores and market control, but these new convertibles are offering something that no tablet alone can offer: the ability to have your cake and eat it too. An iPad can have tons of apps, and help you read email and browse the web like any other tablet, but it can't run Photoshop; it can't utilize your company's proprietary desktop software; it can't play hard-ball with businesspeople, gamers, or students. A convertible tablet PC not only has the same competitive (from 8 to 16 hours) battery life and versatility of tablets, but also all the goodies of a laptop to match it. Why buy a tablet and a laptop when you can buy one device to serve both purposes? It's a cheaper, easier, and more seamless solution - and it runs Windows. Thanks to Microsoft's new Windows 8 interface, they found a way to merge two worlds once divided, and this will allow them to take the tablet market by storm. It's only been about a month since convertible tablet PCs have started coming out en mass, but Apple is already reaching its point of saturation for 10-inch tablets, meaning the only direction it can go is down. The IDC has reported Apple's market share consistently drop for the last year, and while it's trying to make that up with its iPad Mini, the fact remains Apple already knows it's dead in the water with full-size tablets, leaving plenty of room for Microsoft's many partners to storm in with Windows-powered hybrids. Plus, Lenovo is already making a shocking jump into the market, pumping out more than half a dozen different convertible tablet PCs. Even Samsung is getting in on the action with its ATIV Smart PCs, and Lenovo already knows where the money is: with convertibles. To top it off, Microsoft's own Surface Pro tablet sold out in almost instantly when sales exceeded expectations. The people have spoken: they want Windows 8

In the end tablets are going to still exist, and the Windows 8 and Widows RT experience has a long way to go until it's going to be tossing Apple and Samsung into the street, but what you're seeing is Microsoft's trump card against Apple and Android. Microsoft can't offer the best independent OS experience, so it's bringing Windows along for the ride, and winning over every type of customer in the process. Convertible tablet PCs change the entire way you should see tablets, and pretty soon everyone will own one. It won't be long until Microsoft reigns over the tablet-verse in the process, and Windows will be what leads the charge.


jsherm101 has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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