Windows 8 touchscreen notebook sales stumble as PC buyers flock to tablets

Windows 8

PC buyers are shunning touch-enabled Windows 8 notebooks in favour of lower cost tablet devices, according to figures released by market watcher Context.

The firm tracked the number of touch-enabled Windows 8 and RT notebooks sold through IT distributors across Western Europe since the launch of Microsoft's new operating system in October.

Its figures show that just 0.2 per cent of the devices sold through UK distribution in October were touch-enabled notebooks, which had steadily increased to 2.6 per cent by January.

There was no significant support from leading hardware vendors for touchscreens in portable PCs.

Across Western Europe, the picture was largely the same, although Spain emerged as the least enthusiastic adopter of the devices, as just 0.5 per cent of notebooks sold through distribution in January featured a touchscreen.

Meanwhile, Italy's enthusiasm for Windows 8 touchscreen devices seems to have waned since launch, as the percentage of touchscreen devices shipped through distribution has dropped since then from 3.4 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior PC analyst at Context, said the popularity of the devices may have suffered from a lack of support from hardware vendors at the time of Windows 8's launch.

"There was no significant support from leading hardware vendors for touchscreens in portable PCs," she said.

"In fact, only 1.1 per cent of all the Windows 8 portable PCs selling through distribution at the time of the launch were touch screen-enabled.

"By the end of January this year, this had only risen to 2.4%, while tablet sales as we know have increased significantly over the same period," Pygott added.

The analyst house said it expects sales of touchscreen Windows 8 notebooks to increase by the third quarter of 2013, as Christmas approaches, but the high cost of the devices could put some users off.

"The price of 15-inch and higher touch screens is still expensive, making the portables a high-priced item, [and] the proliferation of cheaper tablets could potentially dampen touchscreen sales," the company added in a statement.

Context's figures were released at Mobile World Congress earlier this week, which has seen a plethora of new Android tablets being announced by the likes of Samsung, HP and Asus.

LG is also rumoured to have used the event to treat attendees to a sneak peek at its new Windows 8 tablet, although IT PRO was awaiting confirmation of this at the time of writing.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.