The Asus Memo Pad HD7 unveiled at Computex Monday
Surging tablet sales and the muted response to Windows 8 have opened the door for Android at this year's Computex and exposed deeper cracks in the Wintel powerhouse of Windows software and Intel chips.
Microsoft and Intel have dominated the Computex trade show for decades, with faster chips and new versions of Windows making the headlines each year. They are still a dominant force, but Taiwan's PC makers are branching out to save their skins and compete better with smartphones and tablets from Apple and Samsung.
PCs still make headlines at the show, but some of the biggest developments this week have been around products with Android or Mozilla software using chips from Intel rivals like Qualcomm and Nvidia. Microsoft and Intel are no longer the devoted partners they once were, with Microsoft promoting software for ARM chips and Intel cozying up to Google's Android.
"Taiwan always used to be a Wintel country, Computex was a Wintel show. That's just not the case any more," said Dan Nystedt, head of research for TriOrient Investments in Taiwan. "People came to Computex to see what was new in PCs and laptops, now it's to see how the PC industry is adapting to the mobile world."
One of the most talked-about products at the show has been Asustek's MemoPad HD7, a 7-inch Android tablet with a quad-core ARM-based Cortex-A7 processor. Priced at $129 for emerging markets and $149 in developed ones, it boasts a price point that PC makers would struggle to match using software from Microsoft.
Asus also shunned Wintel with its 6-inch phablet, the Fonepad Note, which uses an Intel Atom processor and Android. The Taiwan vendor also showed its Transformer Pad Infinity, a 10-inch Android tablet with an ARM chip. The Fonepad and Transformer Pad are both displayed prominently in its booth on the show floor.
Acer, another Wintel stalwart, unveiled an Android phablet, the Liquid S1, with a 5.7-inch screen. It joins two Android tablets Acer discussed earlier in the year, the Iconia A1 and B1, both priced for the low end of the market at around $150.
And in a particularly worrying sign for both Microsoft and Intel, Acer is showing a 21-inch desktop PC in its booth that's running Android on an Nvidia Tegra 3 chip. It's expected be sold under the Gateway brand in the U.S. later this year.
Another sign alternative platforms are emerging was the alliance between Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn and Mozilla, through which Foxconn says it will design Firefox tablets and smartphones for its PC-making customers. Advanced Micro Devices, meanwhile, said it will embrace Android and Chrome OS alongside Windows.
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