August 14, 2012

Toshiba Exits Windows RT Market Before It Opens

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

What might have been? That is all that will be left of Toshiba´s entry into the Windows RT market — that and likely a few prototypes. The consumer electronics maker announced this week that it was exiting the Windows RT tablet market before it even begins.

And the reason all comes down to parts, as in the components necessary to build the machine. This begs the question on whether Windows RT will see other vendors fall by the wayside and whether there is in fact a real supply chain issue that could yet surface.

Toshiba isn´t exiting the tablet space altogether either. While the company has cancelled the previously announced plans to sell computer and tablet devices based on the Windows RT operating system, it will now move all its focus to devices on the alternate Windows 8 operating system.

The other outstanding question is whether this will cause consumer or even retailer confusion? Not that Windows RT and Windows 8 haven´t already done so to a large extent. While this will no doubt be a lot for some to process, the confusion is because it does in fact come down to the processors and the use of certain apps — including the up until recently dubbed “Metro” interface.

Windows 8, which is still a major departure from the interface that has existed from Windows 95 through Windows 7, relies on the traditional processors from Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD); while Windows RT devices are based on the ARM processor.

In Toshiba´s case the company looked to Texas Instruments to supply the processors, which were found to be in short supply.

“Toshiba has decided not to introduce Windows RT models due to delayed components that would make a timely launch impossible,” Eric Paulsen, a U.S-based spokesman for Toshiba, said in the statement. “For the time being, Toshiba will focus on bringing Windows 8 products to market. We will continue to look into the possibility of Windows RT products in the future while monitoring market conditions.”

Texas Instruments has not released any statement on this matter.

It was still unclear which components specifically were in question, but it also indicates that this switchover from Windows RT to Windows 8 tablets won´t be speedy. Instead it appears that Toshiba, which has long been a major player in the notebook space, will continue to concentrate on notebooks and desktop machines.

Windows RT is scheduled for an October release and will be the first version of Windows that will run on ARM-based chips. In developing the Windows RT platform Microsoft has been more involved in the development process than in previous devices.

This has reportedly caused some strife with the traditional PC makers, with complaints about the lack of software and even consumer demand for the devices. Toshiba is not the first company to exit the still-to-come Windows RT space either, as PC giant HP has shifted focus to Intel-powered tablets instead.

Texas Instruments has also supplied processors for other tablet devices in the marketplace today, including Amazon´s Kindle Fire.