Intel is bringing its Atom line of processors to a close, which will likely lead to a significant decrease in the number of budget Windows tablets released.
The chip maker is in the process of restructuring, and is shutting down products that are less profitable. This includes the Atom line, which powers the $99.99 Nextbook Flexx 8 tablet and the $227 Nextbook Flexx 11 2-in-1.
This certainly doesn’t mean Intel is getting out of the tablet market. In the short run, it will continue to produce Atom x5 and x7 “Cherry trail” processors, like the one in the new the Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855. Longer term, the company is hard at work on low-power Celeron and Pentium “Apollo Lake” processors, which are scheduled to debut in the second half of this year. These are expected to be at the heart of mid-range 2-in-1s and tablets.
The market for lower-cost tablets has been on the decline for some time, whether they run Android, iOS, or Windows, as consumers are increasingly turning to smartphones with large screens to perform the basic tasks they used to do on them.
At the same time, the market is growing for tablets that can function as laptops with the addition of a clip-on keyboard. The market for these is still so new that a name hasn’t been settled on, with some people calling them 2-in-1s and others detachables.
Whatever the name, sales are definitely on the rise. According to IDC, in the first quarter of this year they experienced triple-digit year-over-year growth on shipments of more than 4.9 million units. Jitesh Ubrani, a senior research analyst with the market research firm said “With the PC industry in decline, the detachable market stands to benefit as consumers and enterprises seek to replace their aging PCs with detachables.”
All this is happening at the same time sales of traditional slate tablets declined in Q1, though they still made up 87.6% of all shipments, according to IDC.