Asus is expecting to ship about 6 million tablet PCs in 2012, according to a new report in DigiTimes.
That's a significant rise from 2011, when the company shipped approximately 1.8 million tablets. It also seems wildly optimistic, given the anemic sales of non-iPad tablets over the previous year. However, Asus and other hardware manufacturers have a potential ace up their sleeves in the market-share battle against Apple: Windows 8.
"As for the recent report that [Asus] was not invited into the Windows on ARM (WOA) development project, [Asus] noted that it has the strongest R&D ability among notebook vendors and is the largest client of Nvidia," read DigiTimes' Dec. 6 report. "Therefore, the company will continue to have tight partnership with ARM-based processor makers over development of the WOA platform."
For nearly a year, Microsoft has touted how the upcoming Windows 8 will support system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture, in particular ARM-based systems from Nvidia and other manufacturers. That architecture powers a majority of mobile devices currently on the market, making such support a crucial element in Microsoft's plan to put Windows 8 on tablets.
Asus is prepping Windows 8 tablets before the end of 2012, at least according to a corporate slideshow that leaked onto the Web in October. One slide from that deck suggests Asus will offer a "ticket for selling Windows 8 tablets in Q3'12" alongside "2 hero products GTM in Q3'12."
While that language made Asus' Windows strategy somewhat unclear, it nonetheless hinted that the company will produce two Windows 8 tablets in the third quarter of 2012. If verified, that would align with rumors that Windows 8 will appear in a broad-based release closer to the end of next year; Windows XP and Windows 7, Microsoft's two most successful Windows versions, both arrived on store shelves in October of their respective release years.
So is Asus expecting to ship massive amounts of Windows 8 tablets in 2012? The DigiTimes report, in conjunction with those slides indicating a range of Windows 8 devices in the making, suggests such a course. Certainly, other manufacturers, including Dell and Hewlett-Packard, are prepping their own Windows 8 touch-screens for a wide release.
In a bid to recapture a portion of the tablet market from Apple's iPad, Microsoft is optimizing Windows 8 for touch-screens in addition to traditional PCs, with an interface featuring sets of colorful, touchable tiles linked to applications. Users can also flip to a Windows-style desktop interface.