Today, “America’s #1 LCD HDTV” vendor Vizio launched a line of sleek notebook, ultrabook, and all-in-one desktop PCs. Howzat? Isn’t Vizio familiar with the term “post-PC era”? What have they been smoking down there in Irvine?
I think Vizio is crazy like a fox and I’ve got the data to back up that assertion. In fact, I published that data yesterday right here in this blog (see “3D Thursday: The “King of 3D ICs” (Herb Reiter) speaks to his subjects—‘Learn to work together’”). In case you missed it, here’s the graph once again:
The “post-PC” rhetoric would have you believe that PC sales are on the decline, to be overrun possibly as soon as tomorrow by smartphones and media tablets. Well the part about media tablets and smartphones growing like topsy is absolutely on the mark, as you can see from the above slide, which Herb Reiter got from Gartner. However, take another close look at that graph. You see that dot on the far right? That’s mobile PCs, aka notebooks and ultrabooks. That category is slated to consume about US $55 billion worth of semiconductors in 2014, still growing at about 15% per year CAGR.
Now admittedly, that “mobile PC” dot isn’t in the upper right part of the graph, which would mean big volumes AND high growth rate. It’s just about 40% more to the right than the smartphone dot, which represents more than US $15 billion in additional annual semiconductor revenue over that for smartphones. That’s billion, with a “b”.
And that’s why I say that Vizio is crazy like a fox. They obviously see a big unserved or underserved market and they’ve decided to give that market a reason to trade up or buy based on a rock-solid model of premium product sales: Apple. Vizio’s notebooks and ultrabooks make no pretense about Apple. They echo the sleek, sexy, come-hither look, feel, and finish of the aluminum and glass Apple MacBook Pros, but they act like Windows PCs for the vast sea of customers not served by Apple’s product offerings.
Here’s a quote from the Vizio press release:
“Understanding the impact aesthetics have on experience, VIZIO also focused heavily on design. Manifested beyond a few sleek bevels, VIZIO’s purposeful design decisions and premium materials culminate in a line of PCs that rival the status-quo. From the die-cast aluminum neck with its hidden hinge, premium wireless keyboard and wireless touchpad of the All-in-One, to the anodized aluminum unibody construction with precision CNC detailing of the Thin + Light and Notebook, VIZIO took every detail into account, creating top-quality work and entertainment fixtures like no other.”
Sounds like Apple to me, no?
“PCs haven’t always been made with design at the forefront. While customers want an elegant, multi-purpose device capable of executing tasks and flawlessly delivering entertainment, some PCs still look like mundane work machines,” said Matt McRae, Chief Technology Officer, VIZIO. “VIZIO is passionate about innovation, design and the user experience. We listened to consumers and created a line of PCs that deliver on productivity but are also uncompromisingly clean, stylish and sophisticated.”
What does one of these PCs look like?
Glad you asked. Take a look and see what you think:
I think Vizio has carved out a thinly populated, high-end niche with good margin in a still-growing market segment:
Thin. Light. Smart.
Note: For an enlightening interview with Vizio CTO Matt McRae, see this article on the pcmag.com web site: