As Microsoft gets ready to release Windows 8 in October, PC vendors are being pushed to come out with innovative laptop and Ultrabook designs that include keyboards and touchable panels. Ultrabooks are based on Intel's specification for thin and power-efficient laptops similar to Apple's MacBook Air.
Intel is betting that touch will be a huge win for the PC industry. "We believe it's potentially game-changing," said Karen Regis, consumer client marketing manager at Intel. "Intel has gone to great lengths to secure capacity two or three times the projected demand for touch because we think there's going to be such a big upside." Touch, she added, is going to be a huge boost for laptops and especially Ultrabooks.
Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, agreed that Intel has reason to be excited about touch. "If Microsoft can motivate developers to create high-quality apps, then there is a lot to be excited about," he added. "PC users are very comfortable with touch on phones and tablets and are looking for that on PCs. Ask yourself, 'How many times have you reached up and tried to touch your laptop screen?' "
Touch, said Moorhead, could take some of the intrigue away from tablets and put it squarely on its predecessor, the PC.
However, Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Ressearch, was doubtful. "I think Intel is too optimistic," said Kerravala. "Laptops aren't great devices for today's consumer. I think Ultrabooks have a shot since they're driven by cloud, but I see laptops remaining slow... I think [Intel] is off base."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is email@example.com. See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.
Read more about pcs in Computerworld's PCs Topic Center.