Among all brand-name notebook-computer makers, Apple Computer Inc is set to take center stage next year, mainly bolstered by its new light-weight models as well as the iPod effect, a recent study found.
Apple is projected to ship 3.27 million notebook computers worldwide next year, an increase of 42 percent compared to 2.29 million units this year, according to study results released by the Topology Research Institute (拓墣產業研究所).
This translates to Apple's market share in the worldwide notebook market rising to 4.7 percent from 3.9 percent this year.
"Compared to other makers which will post only moderate growth, Apple's performance is significant and worth paying attention to," Topology analyst Simon Yang (楊勝帆) said.
According to Yang, Apple notebooks are poised to grab consumers' attention next year as the company will unveil light-weight models with a stylish design aimed at luring female users.
Compared to its current bulky and older models, the upcoming Apple lineup will include 12-inch notebooks weighing in at 1.5kg as well as 14-inch models below 2kg, he said.
In addition, as the iPod digital-music-player series have been selling like hot cakes because of the large storage size they offer and their fashionable exterior, the "fondness effect" will be passed on to Apple notebooks, he said.
On the other hand, he said, NEC Computer Corp's shrinking market share might serve as a warning to Apple.
The research firm estimates that NEC's notebook shipments will rise to 2.64 million units from 2.54 million units, but the company's market share will decline 0.5 percentage points to 3.8 percent next year.
"NEC has been putting too much emphasis on the Japanese market, prompting it to lose market share elsewhere and it lacks a niche market to compete with other aggressive players," Yang said.
Meanwhile, Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co, Toshiba Corp, Acer Inc as well as Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) are expected to maintain their respective positions as the world's top-five notebook makers next year, according to the Taipei-based research house.
The market shares of HP, Acer and Lenovo will be up marginally, with Dell and Toshiba showing a slight decline, it said.
"Among the top five, Lenovo will still face a setback in other markets even though its products are highly accepted in China. It needs to do more to assure users of the product quality after acquiring IBM Corp's PC business," Yang said.
Overall, global notebook shipments next year will grow by 17.8 percent to reach 69.5 million units, mainly driven by lower pricings and the new Intel dual-core platform, which is due to be launched next month.
This estimate is similar to the figures given by Market Intelligence Center (市場情報中心), another local market researcher.
MIC forecast in October that worldwide notebook shipments next year will hit 71.2 million units, demonstrating a healthy growth of 19.8 percent.
It said that, combined with the volume of desktop computers, which will reach 135 million units, the total shipments of all personal computers will surpass the 200 million mark for the first time.