Microsoft May Have Overestimated Demand for Touchscreen Laptops

Paul Lilly

Touch laptop sales aren't surging

Microsoft's gamble with Windows 8 is that users far and wide want the same touch experience regardless of which device they're using, be it a smartphone, tablet, or notebook PC. That may have been a faulty assumption. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), touch-capable laptop shipments are much lower than Microsoft's OEM partners had predicted.

Acer, for example, said earlier this year that up to 35 percent of its notebooks would wield touchscreens. Unfortunately for Acer and others betting big on touch, users aren't necessarily clamoring for touchscreen laptops.

"We forecast that 17 percent to 18 percent of all notebooks would have touch this year," Bob O'Donnell, an analyst with IDC, told ComputerWorld in an interview. "But that now looks to be too high, to be honest."

O'Donnell said IDC would likely reduce its estimate of touch-ready notebook shipments to between 10 percent and 15 percent of all laptops. That's in line with what another research firm is thinking, as NPD DisplaySearch said earlier this year that touch notebooks would account for about 12 percent of laptops in 2013.

That's not good news for Microsoft. Even though prices of touch-ready notebooks have come down, Windows 8 isn't boosting sales figures to any level of excitement. It could be that prices need to come down even more, or it could be the lack of compelling apps that require touch that's holding sales back.

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