'No need to pull the plugs on PC industry'

PHOTO: 'No need to pull the plugs on PC industry'

Shipment of PCs fell almost 11 per cent in the second three months of the year, according to research firm Gartner but Mr Wu Teng Guo, 51, managing director of Toshiba Singapore, feels that the computer market is only just finding its own equilibrium.

Netbooks, small and lightweight laptops priced at about $600 and which were popular about two to three years ago, have been replaced by smartphones and tablets, he explained.

"This impacted the PC industry but I believe the PC industry will soon stabilise. Even tablet and smartphone users will need computers for work such as creating spreadsheets and databases," said Mr Wu, the first non-Japanese to lead the company here.

That PCs will survive and even thrive is without a doubt.

After all, mainframes are still around despite naysayers who said they would die within 20 years, replaced by minicomputers and PCs, he added.

However, customers will want to see new innovations. The rapid convergence of computing, smartphone and consumer electronics technologies will have an impact on future generations of laptops.

PCs will see less of Windows and Intel technologies in them. Instead, more machines powered by smartphone technologies such as Android operating systems and ARM microprocessors will emerge. These technologies built for handheld devices are much more energy efficient and will have similar impact on laptops.

Innovations in material will make laptops less bulky. LCD screens will be thinner too. Hard disks will be replaced by smaller flash and solid state drives, which can pack more storage capacity.

"All these technologies lead to thinner and lighter laptops with high-resolution computer screens and longer battery life."

Cables will also disappear, he adds, as the next wave of laptops will have wireless battery charging capability. There will be a special electronics layer on desks in schools for example, where students can charge their laptops.

Mr Wu started his career in Toshiba in 1990 as a marketing support executive before he moved into product marketing. In 2005, he left for NEC to run its mobile computing business here but returned to Toshiba in 2009. He was posted to India for three years and returned here last year.

Toshiba, he pointed out, is an engineering company that has created many innovations such as flash drives and the first 1ΒΌ-inch hard drive that found its way into the first iPods. The Japanese corporation also believes that new technologies should be promoted for the good of the industry.

"The company's philosophy is to share our innovations and promote new technologies, even those not invented by us, so as to create the critical mass and customer demand which will make devices more affordable to consumers."

For example, in 1998, Toshiba was part of an industry group, which included Intel and Ericsson, to promote Bluetooth wireless communication. Today, Bluetooth is a standard way for devices like computer printers, cars, medical devices and smartphones to communicate wirelessly.

Looking ahead, Toshiba will be looking to do well in the business mobile computing market which is its speciality.

"We've always been known for our business laptops like the Tecra range. To ensure the highest quality, we're making all the computers now in Japan."


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