Microsoft Corp’s push into low-priced notebooks could make such Windows-based computers a niche market segment rather than a mainstream product, according to Japanese brokerage Nomura Holdings Inc.
In light of the increasing popularity of Chromebooks that run on Google Inc’s Web-centric Chrome operating system, Microsoft is working with PC brands including Hewlett-Packard Co, Toshiba Corp and Taiwan’s Acer Inc (宏碁) to launch Windows notebooks priced at under US$250, Nomura said.
The ultra-low-priced computers are to be equipped with entry-level CPUs and preloaded with Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system.
Like Chromebooks and tablets, these low-priced notebooks could become a new product segment with “some decent initial volume,” Nomura analyst Patrick Chen (陳鈞寧) said.
“Judging from the entry-level product specs and below-average computing capabilities, we believe they are unlikely to become mainstream, but rather could cannibalize some of the current tablet and Chromebook market,” Chen wrote in a research note on Wednesday last week.
Chen said he expects these low-priced devices to generate lower profits and margins than mainstream notebooks, so it could be margin-dilutive to brands like Acer Inc (宏碁) and Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) if these low-priced notebooks take a significant market share.
The analyst forecast that notebooks priced under US$250 would have a limited impact on gross and operating margins of Taiwan-based contract laptop makers, and he maintained his “buy” rating on Quanta Computer Inc (廣達), Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶) and Wistron Corp (緯創).