Wed, Sep 21, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Elitegroup targets women with new high-end laptop

PRICEY PUPPIES The company's new laptops feature cute dog logos and a Scottish theme, but with pricetags as high as NT$49,900, their appeal will likely be narrow


Elitegroup Computer Systems Co (精英電腦), whose core business is computer motherboards, yesterday launched high-end laptops targeted at professional women, in a bid to tap into Taiwanese women's rising spending power and find a niche to survive in the competitive laptop market.

"We will move toward niche markets to gain more market share," said Sam Tsai (蔡耀禎), general manager of the company's notebook, PC and systems business unit, at a product launch yesterday.

As a late entrant into the laptop business, Elitegroup only holds a small market share, lagging far behind market leaders such as Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), Acer Inc and Hewlett-Packard.

Tsai didn't want to reveal the company's exact market share, but he stressed that Elitegroup is unfazed by competition from low-priced notebooks that have recently been introduced into the market, since its customized products will help it win over consumers' hearts.

The notebooks launched yesterday bear a puppy-dog logo on the cover with colorful stripes representing the Scottish spirit. The 2kg models, the Scottish House 223 CW and 223 DW, are being sold for NT$39,900 and NT$49,900, with only a limited stock of 2,400 available.

Elitegroup is just one of many vendors who are launching new models ahead of the holiday shopping season. Asustek yesterday also unveiled a high-end laptop. Priced at NT$52,800, the Asus W6 is aimed at business users who need a wireless connection.

Elitegroup, which shipped around 510,000 units last year, is hoping to ship 600,000 laptop this year, Tsai said, adding that this goal should be met in the peak sales months from this month through November. Of the total shipments, 95 percent will come from its original design manufacturing segment, with the rest from its brand-name laptops, Tsai said.

He said that the company will continue to launch notebooks for various market segments. One plan is to introduce easy-to-use laptops for older consumers aged 45 to 60, as that untapped market is huge. He said that the plans are still under evaluation and did not give a specific timeframe for the launch.

An analyst questioned the effect of the new laptops on Elitegroup's performance.

"The new launch from Elitegroup is probably a publicity stunt," said Helen Chen (陳佩君), an analyst with Polaris Securities Co (寶來證券). This launch will enable it to increase its market visibility, she said.

According to Chen, the limited stock of the laptops will not contribute much to the company's overall revenues, due to the fact that high-end laptops are such a narrow market segment.

However, the trend for lower-priced laptops is here to stay, driven by strong consumer demand, she said.

Her view is backed up by Acer, whose entry-level laptop, the Extensa 2603LCi priced at NT$19,999 apiece, sold out within a week of the product's Sept. 9 launch.

Shares of Elitegroup rose 4.17 percent to NT$22.5 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, while Acer was up 2.6 percent to NT$63.3.

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