Hewlett-Packard Co, the world's top PC vendor, plans to launch its first lower-priced laptop computers in April, a company executive said in Taipei yesterday.
HP's announcement follows world No. 3 Acer Inc's announcement last week that it would unveil low-cost notebook computers this summer.
Both PC heavyweights were conservative about notebooks last year until Asustek Computer Inc's (
"HP plans to sell small-screen notebook computers in the second quarter, making its product portfolio more complete in terms of retail price," said Dennis Chen (
HP's new "mininote" serie, outfitted with a small-than-9-inch LCD screen, would include entry-level, middle-range and high-end models, Chen said.
The series is part of HP's new products for emerging markets, which are aimed at expanding its growth outside of standard PC market, HP said.
The "mininote" laptops will be outfitted with an small-screen liquid-crystal-display (LCD) screen, bigger than Eee PC's 7-inch screen, and will be also equipped with mainstream specifications such as Microsoft Corp's operating system and Intel Inc's processors.
HP declined to identify its target users or price range for the "mininote" series.
But Acer, which plans to debut its first lower-priced notebook with a Microsoft system and 8.9-inch screen by June, said its price would be much lower than NT$20,000 per unit.
Quanta Computer (廣達電腦), Compal Electronics (仁寶), Wistron Corp (緯創) and Inventec Corp (英業達) are major suppliers to HP.
Shipments of low-cost laptops are expected to reach 15 million units from Taiwanese notebook computer makers this year, making up around 13 percent of total laptop shipments, Taipei-based researcher Topology Research Institute (
"Low-cost PCs are likely to become the product most PC vendors have to sell this year," Topology PC industry analyst Jane Tseng (曾筱軫) said.
Since Eee PC's October launch, Asustek has sold 380,000 units at a minimum price of less than US$200 per unit. Asustek aims to sell 3.5 million to 5 million units this year, largely to children, young women and the elderly.
Tseng said corporate users such as logistics and insurance companies would be potential buyers of HP's new lower-priced notebooks.
As a whole, Topology said it is positive about the notebook computer industry this year as it expects the sub-prime credit crisis in the US will only have a minor impact on the sector.
Notebook computer shipments from local manufacturers are expected to grow by 18 percent to 23 percent at annual rate to between 110 million and 120 million units, compared to last year's 93 million, Topology said.
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