Note to Self: Get Notebook

By Baker, Glenn | New Zealand Management, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Note to Self: Get Notebook


Baker, Glenn, New Zealand Management


Ever since the emergence of the first industry standard notebook (laptop) computer in 1985, portable PCs have had a slow but steady impact on the sales of desktop computers. Barely noticeable to begin with, in more recent times notebook PCs have been outselling desktop computers in the consumer sector. In 2006, for the first time, notebooks are expected to outsell desktops in the business market.

Traditionally desktop computers led the way in technology development, with portable computers constantly playing a catch-up game.

Today the situation has almost been reversed, with new technology hitting the mobile platform first. Computer users must now seriously question their motives for buying a desktop over a portable.

All this was brought home to me at a recent product launch hosted by Toshiba, where the company unveiled a whole raft of business and retail models based on Intel's new dual core platform, along with its latest Qosmio four-in-one entertainment unit (now with HD digital TV tuner) and digital audio players (gigabeat Flash and gigabeat X series).

As Mark Wittard, GM Australia and New Zealand for Toshiba ISD, points out, the price and technology gap has closed significantly between notebooks and desktops, In the United States, for example, entry level notebooks are now selling for as little as US$399. In this country, the sub-S1200 category has been around since last year.

Although this is a market that Toshiba has stayed away from (no doubt impacting on its overall market share), Wittard says the commoditisation of the notebook market is inevitable, and is already happening. He predicts the death of the desktop within the next three years. In the third quarter of last year, notebook sales outstripped desktop sales in New Zealand for the first time.

Not surprisingly, notebook manufacturers require a global economy of scale to survive--to avoid succumbing to the combined challenges of falling margins (average sell price pressure), competition, the cost of warranties and servicing, and achieving profitable growth. …

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