Wed, Dec 03, 2008 - Page 12 News List

IDC projections for notebook shipments cut

NETBOOKS: While the market researcher lowered its overall laptop forecast, it raised its projection for low-cost machines given their fast uptake in Europe

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Market researcher International Data Corp (IDC) lowered its forecast of notebook shipments next year to 177.7 million units, saying deepening economic woes could delay consumer and corporate purchases.

That represents a drop of 3.8 percent from IDC’s previous estimate of 184.7 million units made in April as buyers tightened spending amid a global economic slump.

IDC, however, sharply raised its projection for global shipments of netbooks, or low-cost laptops, to 11.4 million units for this year and 21.5 million next year.

These figures represent a quadruple rise from its April estimate of 3.5 million for this year and 5.5 million units for next year because of fast consumer uptake in Western Europe, the researcher said. The figure may increase to 42.1 million in 2012, it added.

The markets for notebooks, monitors and TVs in Western Europe and the US are roughly similar in size, but in the case of mininotes, “it is about eight to one, Western Europe versus the US, which is extremely surprising,” IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell told a press briefing in Taipei.

Taiwanese computer companies Acer Inc (宏碁) and Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) may have relatively low brand awareness in the US, but both enjoy robust sales in Europe, where they have strong brand recognition, O’Donnell said.

Telecom operators in Europe and Japan have also begun to offer netbooks at a sharp discount or for free in exchange for two-year service contracts, which have helped boost the popularity of netbooks, he said.

The economy will likely only have an indirect impact on netbook sales, he said. Buyers in emerging markets could be enticed by netbooks’ lower price, while those in developed markets could put off upgrading their notebooks and opt for a netbook.

IDC also slashed its overall PC shipment forecast for next year by 6 percent to 324 million units.

“A worsening economy also has a ripple effect on LCD [liquid crystal display] TV sales and weakening demand,” said Eric Haruki, who tracks TV markets and technologies for IDC.

Haruki cut his forecast for global LCD TV sales this year by 4 percent to 95 million units, although Black Friday sales in the US looked good.

As IDC’s survey shows continuing strong interest in flat-panel TVs, Haruki was optimistic that “there’s gonna be robust demand next year.”

Shipments of LCD TVs may grow 24 percent to 118 million units next year, he said.

But the volume growth would be at the expense of margins and revenues, as consumers are expecting deeper discounts, Haruki said.

Japan’s Sony Corp and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co initiated a price war in the US early this year, allowing them to gain market share while forcing the smaller brands to exit the market, he said.

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