Samsung won’t be selling its Microsoft Windows RT tablet, the Ativ Tab, in the U.S., citing weak demand and challenges to achieve its target price. The company confirmed those plans with CNET, suggesting that it could re-evaluate its decision in the future. The company does offer two Windows 8 tablets in the Ativ line, however, so this decision is more likely to impact Qualcomm more than Microsoft.
I consider this development to be a small win for Intel because it means that Samsung’s Windows 8 tablets for the U.S. market will run solely on Intel chips. Qualcomm, which has been very successful developing the chips that power many smartphones and tablets, is Microsoft’s partner for Windows RT, a version of Windows specifically designed for ARM-based chips.
After speaking with Intel this week at the Consumer Electronics show, I’m not too surprised by Samsung’s choice. Intel’s Atom Z2760 chip is reportedly on par with Qualcomm’s chips when it comes to power efficiency and, in some cases, outperforms them based on AnandTech’s recent chip comparison.
In a quick check, I saw that Samsung’s Ativ Smart PC with Intel Atom and 64 GB of storage can be had for $599 on Amazon. And Dell’s Latitude 10 Essentials Windows 8 slate with the same Atom chip and 32 GB is now down to $499. Microsoft’s own Surface RT tablet with Qualcomm processor starts at the same $499 and includes 32 GB of storage. Choose a 64 GB Surface RT device, and you’ll pay $699. That price does include a keyboard cover, however.
Regardless, consumers can choose a tablet with the full version of Windows 8 that’s fully compatible with old Windows applications for about the same price as a Windows RT slate. Samsung knows this and must figure: Why bother with the RT version?
And in terms of battery life, I’m told by Intel that the new Atom Z2760 is expected to get around 10 hours of run-time on a single charge, or the same as a Windows RT device with Qualcomm’s chips. Again, with little difference in performance and run-time, why wouldn’t consumers choose Windows 8 over Windows RT?