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Limited supply of touchscreens may cripple Windows 8 notebook availability

07 Feb 2013

Display suppliers may impede the availability of touch-enabled notebooks - a key feature of Windows 8 - according to a new report by NPD DisplaySearch, because they are yet to be convinced demand warrants significant investment.

According to the analyst house, touchscreen suppliers are weary of producing screens for Windows 8-powered ultrabooks, especially given the white-hot market for tablets.

"The high-end specifications for touch on Windows 8 PCs, and the unproven consumer demand for touch on notebooks has touchscreen suppliers leery of shifting capacity from the high volume smartphone and tablet PC markets to notebook PCs," said senior analyst with NPD DisplaySearch Richard Shim.

Sales of Windows 8 devices have failed to impress since the product launched last year. Acer president Jim Wong recently suggested his firm was considering focusing on building more Chromebooks because of the poor sales of Windows 8 PCs.

While Wong blamed Microsoft for the poor sales, analysts have put the blame on vendors. IDC recently reported Windows 8 vendors were not properly promoting Redmond's touch-enabled platform.

NPD also reports that ultra-slim notebooks are seeing availability crippled by display suppliers. The difficultly involved in making ultra-slim displays constraining supply.

"The challenge from a production standpoint is that manufacturing ultra-slim glass, 0.4mm and thinner, is not only difficult but handling and transporting such fragile glass requires special equipment," continued Shim.

"Only two panel suppliers, AUO and Innolux, are taking on the extra expense of using ultra-slim glass to offer panels in any significant volumes."

Despite the potential display shortage, Shim projects a bright future for ultra-slim notebooks. NPD's said the market will see a boost in sales in 2014 and 2015.

The firm doesn't see ultrabooks greatly boosting PC sales overall, but sees the form factor being adopted in the high-end market.

Last year, research firm IHS found the ultrabook market failed to gain much traction with consumers.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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