VodkaPundit

Oops, They Did It Again

Microsoft is the company that put a computer on every office desk and a laptop on every worker’s lap. Then they became a force to be reckoned with in the gaming world, too. But somewhere along the way, they seem to have lost their core competency. Here’s the latest example:

Microsoft’s bet that touch would propel Windows 8 has run into a major snag, an industry analyst said Friday: Consumers see little reason to pay premium prices for touch-enabled laptops.

According to IDC, touch-ready laptop shipments are significantly lower than optimistic forecasts by computer makers such as Acer, whose president, Jim Wong, said in May that by the end of the year 30% to 35% of his company’s notebooks would sport touchscreens.

“We forecast that 17% to 18% of all notebooks would have touch this year,” Bob O’Donnell, an analyst with IDC, said in an interview Friday, referring to the research firm’s own estimates earlier this year. “But that now looks to be too high, to be honest.” He said IDC would probably drop its touch estimates to between 10% and 15% of all laptops.

A laptop is a thing you use with a keyboard and touchpad, because it sits upright on your lap or desk or other level surface, at about the same distance you keep a regular keyboard. A tablet is a computer you use with your finger, because you hold it in your other hand. They are different devices with different input methods because they serve different purposes with different usage scenarios.

You can’t make a tablet-y notebook just like you can’t make a notebook-y tablet. Not one that people will clamor to buy, that is. A touchscreen laptop is like a remote-control toaster. It’s a nice feature box to stick a checkmark in, if you’re into that kind of thing — but at the end of the day, people will ask “WTF am I going to use this remote control for when I still have to walk over to put in the bread?”

Why is this such a difficult concept for the smart people in Redmond — and there are tons of smart people in Redmond — to understand?