Rising Trend: Tablet PC’s

The popularity of Tablet PC’s is on the rise. As a 2-year user of a Toshiba M200, I firmly believe that all laptops will soon be outfitted with the flip screen and pen function.

If you get in early, I think there are some great opportunities to a piece of action in the…

Audible Inc (ADBL) – Provider of Internet audio information.
Sigmatel Inc (SGTL) – Designs and develops analog-intensive, mixed-signal integrated circuits.
Portalplayer Inc (PLAY) – Designs, develops and markets comprehensive platform solutions.


As a college student and a proctor in a computer lab, I can personally attest to the fact that laptops are getting ever more popular as described in this USA Today article (here). Mark Cuban writes in his personal blog how desktops are boring.

This tablet technology will soon burst its way into mainstream when prices come down a bit and people become more familar with the technology. I consider myself an extremely fast and adept computer user, and a simple mouse does not cut it. ESPECIALLY those slow touch-pads on laptops.

So if you happen to have any inside information about where certain specialized tablet parts come from, let me know!

Blog posted on: April 14, 2005

31 comments on “Rising Trend: Tablet PC’s

  1. Anonymous

    Very cool, but aren’t tablets greatly limited in their processing power? At least with the current technology?

    Reply
  2. Tracy

    Well, actually, there are tablets now with 2.0GHz Pentium M Dothans and 2GB RAM, so they’re aren’t exactly slow.

    lol, interesting ideas you have…and they actually kinda make sense…if you can predict these companies ^_^.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    This is actually a pretty well known stock play…very Peter Lynchian….you don’t buy the stock of the company that makes the hot product, but you buy the stock of the company that makes the components. (Tip: Same thing with restraunts…yu can buy the stock of the hot new franchise…or the stock of the company that makes the ovens for the franchise…think pizza).

    I’m currently doing this type of investing (I bought stock in a company that makes the cores for processors used in cell phones, as cell phones everywhere today…).

    It is a great idea, as tablet PC’s will likely take off in the next 3-5 yrs (although I thought I read a report which said that doctors are not using them as much as predicted…also…I recall the same “story” when palm devices were introduced, and they fell flat).

    So what components are ubiquitous to a tablet PC? I’d say the screen and whatever makes that work. I don’t know of any mnfr’s, but do a google, get a couple of leads, then surf the Yahoo msg boards for more leads.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Oh, I forgot one thing. The absolute easiest way to get the information you want is to call the company who makes the PC.

    I have done this before…call and ask to speak to the tech dept or whatever, explain that you are a student and are doing a project and you are trying to figure out the mnf’g process or some crap. These people will talk your ear off and you will get tons of info.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Our network (currently 6 hospitals) are implementing PALM PILOTS for the Physicians… not PC Tablets. I am sure cost was a factor in this decision. So Palm will be getting a revenue boost from us!

    Reply
  6. Neville

    A large amount of my med-school friends own Palm’s. They use them all the time in the field and in school.

    Palm’s are currently the rage right now, but when tablets get smaller, lighter, more powerful and most importantly, cheaper, I think they might start to infiltrate the field a little more.

    Reply
  7. Fantonim

    Great post, Nev!

    Here’s my take on this. If you want to predict the future hot trend, look no further than … science fiction! Yes, look at how much stuff Herbert Wells predicted. I was always confident that the stuff they use in Star Trek will once hit the market, in terms of technology at least. I am not talking about plasma infubulator, or a warp drive, but something smaller, like their reading pads, tricorder-scanner for medical use, com badges as communicating devices and tons of other stuff. It’s all a matter of predicting which techno gizmo hits the markets first!!!

    Reply
  8. Alien Shaman

    In Vegas there is a restuarant named Aureole that gives you a tablet-pc to look up wines.

    A quick google search has some good articles on what they did, and the increase to wine sales it produced.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    First – just a thought, but would a small-cap tech index fund make a diverse ‘emerging technology’ play?

    Second – I work in marketing for a semiconductor manufacturer…so I’ll check with some people to see who they think can tip the market…my initial guess is someone in Asia (Japan likely), as the mobile market there is significantly larger than the desktop market.

    Third – a great RSS news feed to keep up with cool technology is Engadget.

    -Jess

    Reply
  10. Colin Rowley

    Sorry, I hate to say it, but I tried the Tablet PC and hated it. It seemed like a good idea, but it was too buggy. In fact, you can blame the Tablet PC for my switching to Mac. I hate Windows!

    Reply
  11. Neville

    First generation tablet PC’s (including Toshiba’s) are extremely buggy, slow and inconvenient to use.

    The 2nd generations (what I own) are not.

    -Nev

    Reply
  12. Marc Orchant

    Excellent post! You not only introduce an interesting investment idea, you also show off one of the Tablet PC’s greates strenghts and one that is often all to difficult to document – the impact and power that ink + text can have. Bravo.

    Reply
  13. cameronreilly

    Great post Neville. I love my Acer Travelmate 301 Tablet PC. The one thing I would like to do more of, however, is ink blogging. How did you put this post together?

    Reply
  14. Scott

    The only manufacturer I can think of that differentiates a TabletPC from any other laptop is the pressure-sensitive tablet screen itself, which is manufactured by Wacom. Wacom’s parent company is traded as “JASDAQ: 6727″ but I have to admit my financial idiocy to state that I have no idea how to get involved in purchasing stocks from JASDAQ or even to track its financial performance.

    But good tip, I may shift a few stocks around and grab some Wacom.

    Reply
  15. Jeremy Brayton

    Real men use screwdrivers. Want to find the manufacturers of each component? Take the damned thing apart. Of course they are more expensive than a regular laptop, so I personally would only do this on one that bit the dust. Most laptops aren’t that difficult to disassemble, the harder part being trying to put it all back together correctly.

    Manufacturers usually always mark their parts in some fashion. Worst case you could try to find the FCC code and look that up online to try to match the part with the vendor. Of course none of this is guaranteed though but I’m sure you could find at least a couple of key component manufacturers this way.

    For those that are too scared you could always luck out and find someone who works for say HP that disassembles these things all the time. I’m sure they could tell you but would probably get fired if anyone found out. I’m sure they don’t publish their component manufacturers for a reason, probably this exact one.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    In 2002, very few Tablet PCs were sold, compared to a half million for 2003. The growth for 2004 wasn’t exceptional.

    Manufacturers:
    The top 3 are Toshiba, HP, and Acer. There are not many significant small players.

    Markets:
    The USA has about 1/3 of the market, followed by Europe. Surprisingly, Asia didn’t have a bigger role.

    Business users buy the most. Figure out where the contracts are and who is making them. Business buyers are also not as price sensitive as individuals (in my opinion). Pharmaceutical companies are a good start – the salesreps love Tablet PCs.

    Commentary:
    Intel makes the processor for almost all Tablet PCs. The processor is a very high margin component with high barriers to entry. The other distinct parts, like the LCD, are low margin, oversupplied, and hypercompetitive. I believe this is a very high risk investment, because it might take 5 years for the cycle to catch up. By that time, alternative technology could already be in place (Sony PSP, advanced cell phones, etc).

    Laptop demand as a whole is strong and growing, but valuations might not warrant investment. Potential plays could be Intel, Toshiba, Acer, HP, and Fujitsu among others.

    Caveat emptor.

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    I am supprised that IBM didn’t jump on the tablet a lot quicker – maybe they were too lost in selling the mobile division.

    It will probably take a few years to these to become mainstream & with the cost of competition in the computer component manufacturing industry, it is hard to tell if anyone is going to make any big money on these.

    Reply
  18. used computers

    Creating a user-friendly tablet computer has been a goal for software and hardware manufacturers for about a decade, but nothing has quite measured up to expectations.

    Reply
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