Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Mainboard shipment growth to slow: report

VISTA EFFECT The report said that Windows Vista's launch in January would likely push consumers to delay purchases, thus affecting fourth-quarter motherboard sales

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Growth in Taiwanese mainboard or motherboard shipments in the fourth quarter will probably be slower compared with the previous quarter, dragged down by a weak clone market, a report said.

"Vista effect will likely defer shipments in the fourth quarter," Hong Kong-based Citigroup analyst Kirk Yang (楊應超) wrote in a report released last week.

Vista refers to Microsoft's next version of its Windows operating system.

To reflect the slowing momentum, Citigroup cut its fourth-quarter shipment growth forecast to 13 percent to 33.9 million units from its previous estimate of 17 percent.

Microsoft reiterated on Friday that Windows Vista would roll out as scheduled around the world for consumers in January. It is expected to launch a Vista coupon program late this month, and an official Vista consumer version will debut in January.

The coupon program will favor users of Windows XP Professional and Windows Media Center operating systems, allowing them to upgrade to Vista at a much lower rate.

Vista's scheduled launch in January will likely cause a slowdown in the clone segment as consumers may opt to purchase a complete set of PC late next year rather than buy a standalone motherboard now, the Citigroup report said.

Among the nation's top-tier mainboard makers, Elitegroup Computer Systems Co (精英電腦) is forecast to record the highest shipment growth in the fourth quarter, rising 18 percent quarter-on-quarter to 7.6 million units, according to the report.

Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), the world's largest motherboard maker, will ship 16.1 million units, up 15 percent from the third quarter, while Micro-Star International Co (微星科技) and Gigabyte Technology Co (技嘉科技) will see growth rates of 9 percent to 5.4 million units and 3 percent to 4.9 million units, respectively, the report said.

Local motherboard shipments in the third quarter increased 18 percent to 30 million units compared with the previous three months, fueled by demand from the European and clone markets, Citigroup said.

Last month alone, Taiwanese shipments rose 14 percent to 11.3 million units compared with a month earlier, it added.

Prospects next year will be even rosier, the report said.

"Motherboard companies in general are very upbeat on next year's outlook, with better component availability, margin improvements, a more stable platform, and Vista demand for consumers as well as small and medium enterprises," Yang said in the report.

However, he cautioned that makers should take note of the inventory level ahead of the Vista launch, as there would be a delay in video-graphics-array (VGA) card shipments.

As the latest Core 2 Duo PCs need separate VGA cards, their shortage will limit PC shipments and impact on motherboard sales, Yang said.

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