Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Netbook demand promising for component makers

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER

As China-made non-brand notebooks ride on booming global demand for small, wireless-enabled laptops, Taiwanese component suppliers with the right technology stand to benefit, Taipei-based research and consulting firm Topology Research Institute (拓墣產業) said yesterday.

“Taiwanese companies have strong core competencies in personal computer component manufacturing, such as motherboards, panels and notebook batteries. Through supply-chain collaboration via mergers or acquisitions with Chinese counterparts, we can see a more nimble and comprehensive upstream supply chain mapping in China,” Topology vice president Simon Yang (楊勝帆) said.

As a wave of consolidation sweeps across Chinese netbook makers, Yang expects the 500 non-brand companies to shrink to less than 50 by next year.

Major domestic PC contract makers such as Wistron Corp (緯創), Quanta Computer Inc (廣達), Inventec Co (英業達) and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海) have already made strategic relocations to support the burgeoning Chinese non-brand PC industry, Yang said.

Regarding netbook shipment projections from China this year, Topology forecasts 2 million units from brand-name vendors and 500,000 units from non-brand vendors. The shipments will increase to 3 million units and 750,000 units next year, the data showed.

Contrary to popular belief, rather than being sold domestically, the majority of so-called “white-box” netbooks are exported out of China to India, Vietnam and South American countries.

The research house expects that 500,000 non-brand netbooks will be purchased in China and 2 million units shipped internationally. Next year, the figure would increase to 750,000 units in China and 3 million units worldwide.

The ratio is between 1:3 and 1:4, Yang said.

Non-brand netbooks typically cost between 1,600 yuan (US$230) and 1,800 yuan. Once channel fees have been added, the retail price is about 2,000 yuan, Yang said. Brand name netbooks cost on average between 2,800 yuan and 3,000 yuan.

“In order words, the price difference isn’t as sharp as that seen in non-brand mobile phones,” Yang said.

While price is always the primary decision factor, lack of after-sale repair or warranty is another concern. If the price difference is within a 30 percent bracket, Yang said, consumers in China would usually go for brand name netbooks.

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