Is the Laptop making a quiet comeback?

By Raghuraman, P

15th November, 2015

Well, lots of experts out there, have been talking about the gradual decline and impending demise of the laptop. It is today fashionable to talk about and review Smartphones and Tablets by the dozens . (Almost all of these reviews and articles are typed on a laptop, if I am not mistaken)

 

On the other hand we have some x86 evangelists, going around and telling everybody (who cares to listen) that, “hey, the PC is not dead. If you need to create stuff you still need a proper PC. The Tablets and Smartphones are more of Consumption devices”.

On the sidelines, you have software guys like Microsoft who has got in to hardware (that people hardly buy). They are still scratching the surface (pun unintended) and have not been able to make any headway. They are confused between whether to grow the PC ecosystem with their OEM customers or try to clone the IPAD (atleast at the Surface level)! They don’t seem to be doing a good job both ways.

Well, I for one believe that the laptops are definitely going to boom in emerging markets like India provided a computer major can get it right (not a software or a chipmaker, as they do not have the go-to-market capability to reach the last mile).

 

Well I am not a market research company making all kinds of forecasts (mostly inaccurate) and last minute revisions (the right word would be post-mortem). I am basing my prediction basis my interactions with various people and observing the usage patterns. Here are my thoughts in a sequential order:


Jumping Technologies: Bulk of Smartphone and tablet users have never used a computer in India unlike their counterparts in West. Many Indians jumped straight to Tablets and Smartphones because they found it user friendly, affordable, stylish and extremely mobile. These are the people who think, using a computer is very difficult. In popular Indian parlance, these are people “who did not learn how to use a computer and did not attend computer classes”.


Cutting your own feet: The Laptop makers did their bit to hasten this conversion by making bulky, ugly, poor battery life products and to hit the last nail in the coffin, sold naked PCs on which customers had to load Windows, legal or otherwise. Even the cheapest phone or tablet comes with out of the box user experience without having any need to do any “installation”.


Queen’s Language: English language has acted as a deterrent for people to adopt computers in India. By keeping the PC interface restricted to English, the user base has also remained restricted. Best analogy is the newspaper business. The top 10 newspapers in India are all in vernacular languages.


Touch is the new language of the masses: “Touch” is the universal language of technology interface and has led many Indians to embrace devices like smartphones and tablets irrespective of their age, education and background.


Who has done a better job?: PR machineries of the Computer makers for decades have been messaging the benefits of personal computing technology to the masses. But in India, it is the smartphone and tablet makers who have managed to communicate this message better. They are doing what the computer makers could not do, which is preparing the consumers to learn to use technology and get familiar with internet and apps and improve their quality of life.


Yeh Dil Mange More : Now after enjoying years of usage of smartphone and tablets, many of these users are getting familiar with internet, applications, software and interfaces. These users are now craving for more. Hence you are already seeing a shift towards smartphones with massive 5” and 6” screens. Suddenly the docile consumer is wanting to do more on his device.


Mystery is unraveling: I dare say, as a consequence of above, I see and hear people now talking about good, thin, sleek, instant booting, touch enabled laptop with great battery life that allows them to do more and experience better, many of their “personal tasks”. Slowly, many of these erstwhile “consumption only” users are now wanting to create stuff on their own. They are no longer scared of technology and computer is no longer a mystery. However affordability is still the key.


Migrating from a sedan to SUV: Sedan is very user friendly, but SUV is aspirational. The way Renault Duster, Ford Ecosport and M&M XUV 5OO changed the way Indian’s looked at SUVs, it is time for Computer makers to accelerate innovation and give a great laptop experience that excites the Tablet/Smartphone users. Indian Consumers learn to drive on small cars and use small cars for a few years but ultimately want to own and drive the big cars. The car makers who created the big cars with the quality, reliability and UI of small cars and priced it right, managed to reap the benefits. It is time for the Computer companies to pull out a Duster, XUV 5OO or EcoSport, which is to offer a powerful yet sleek computer at tempting prices.


I am convinced that India will see a big laptop boom shortly. Now, how will its design be, what will it have, how much will it cost, is for the PC brands to answer. There cannot be a compromise on performance or looks.

 

Whoever answers first will walk away with the business! Will it be a powerful Macbook Air with daylong battery life at Rs. 29990/= or an equally powerful HP ultra thin Laptop with removable tablet screen, MS Office and day long battery life at Rs. 24990/=…


I don’t know. But both products sound interesting and very tempting to buy!

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