Jan 17, 2013, 06.12 AM IST | Source: Reuters

PC titans take notes from tablets to regain customers

TECHNOLOGY-PC-TABLETS-MICROSOFT-INTEL:PC titans take notes from tablets to regain customers

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Personal computer makers, trying to beat back a tablet mania that's eating into their sales, are making what may be a last-ditch attempt to sway customers by mimicking the competition.

Many of the laptops to be unveiled around the world in coming months will be hybrids or "convertibles" - morphing easily between portable tablets and full-powered laptops with a keyboard, industry analysts say.

The wave of hybrids comes as Intel Corp and Microsoft Corp , long the twin leaders of the PC industry, prepare to report results this week and next. Wall Street is predicting flat to sluggish quarterly revenue growth for both, underscoring the plight of an industry that has struggled to innovate.

In 2013, some are hoping that will change.

With the release of Microsoft's touch-centric, re-imagined Windows 8 platform in October and more power-efficient chips from Intel, PC makers are trying to spark growth by focusing on creating slim laptops with touchscreens that convert to tablets and vice versa.

Microsoft, expanding beyond its traditional business of selling software, is expected this month to roll out a "Surface Pro" tablet compatible with legacy PC software developed over decades.

That's a major selling point for corporate customers like German business software maker SAP , which plans to buy Surface Pros for employees that want it, said SAP Chief Information Officer Oliver Bussmann.

"The hybrid model is very compelling for a lot of users," Bussmann told Reuters last week. "The iPad is not replacing the laptop. It's hard to create content. That's the niche that Microsoft is going after. The Surface can fill that gap."

Apple's

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