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Tablets suffer as 2-in-1 and convertibles take off

MWC is being used as a platform to show-off the latest 2-in1 and convertible products with the tablet market already suffering as users switch to the products

There was plenty of hardware to gorp at at the start of the year at CES but most of it came from established players building on a desktop heritage.

Although there were some great products based on Windows 10 it all felt rather familiar with the brands on the laptop cases being the ones that everyone would expect.

Things are different at Mobile World Congress. There might still be some hardware on show but the kit getting the attention is being offered up by firms with a background in the mobile and telco world.

The current craze for 2-in-1 and convertibles plays more to the strengths of those that are coming from the mobile space and are hurting anyone who was hoping there might be a rebound in the popularity of tablets.

The latest numbers from analyst house Context indicated that there was a 27.5% drop in tablet sales across Western Europe in Q4 as users spent their money elsewhere. the figure for the drop in the UK was 14.1%.

Sales of 2-in-1 devices, with the detachable screens, were up by 31.3% year-on-year in Q4. That level of growth was more than matched in the convertible category, with sales there increasing by 84.7% compared to the last three months of 2014.

“To put these figures in perspective, detachables and convertibles comprised 11% of overall notebook unit sales in distribution at the end of last year, and an even larger share (15%) in the consumer space”, said Marie-Christine, senior analyst at Context.

Given the launches that have already happened at MWC the momentum is clearly going to be with the 2-in-1 and the convertible products.

Huawei and Alcatel have both used the Spanish show to launch Windows 10 products that fit into the convertible category.

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei consumer business group, said that its MateBook product would appeal to anyone looking for a single device that could work in different situations.

“Huawei has successfully channeled its comprehensive experience and excellence in building premium mobile products into the needs of the modern business environment by introducing a highly efficient device, seamlessly capable of integrating work and entertainment functions," he said.

The message was roughly the same over at Alcatel with Vittorio Di Mauro, general manager of smart connectivity, talking up the Plus 10 2-in-1 device.

“Plus 10 is Alcatel’s first 2-in-1 device with Windows 10, and we’re very proud of all the functionality we’ve built into it,” he added “[It] goes everywhere I go – the house, the office, even the park! It’s a fun product that sparks a lot of conversation (and jealousy).”

Things might be getting a bit tougher and more competitive for some of the traditional players but there is still innovation coming out of some of the PC vendors.

HP Inc has also used MWC to show off its Elite x3 which allows users to choose the platform - desktop, laptop and phablet - and connect via a mobile ecosystem.

"The HP Elite x3 is a revolutionary mobile platform that enables mobility and computing to come together in a truly meaningful way. Together with the strength of our partners, we’re propelling the industry forward and turning the promise of mobile productivity into a reality for customers," said Dion Weisler, president and CEO of HP Inc.

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