Notebooks lead the way

Toshiba will be pleased with the latest PC shipment figures from IDC. The results for the first quarter of 2003 shows Toshiba moving into the top five vendors worldwide, as well as taking the number five slot in the US, the first time the vendor has made the top five.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  April 25, 2003

Toshiba will be pleased with the latest PC shipment figures from IDC. The results for the first quarter of 2003 shows Toshiba moving into the top five vendors worldwide, as well as taking the number five slot in the US, the first time the vendor has made the top five.

According to IDC analyst Roger Kay, the success of Toshiba reflects the ever-growing shift of PC markets away from desktops and into mobile computing. Certainly the company's focus on mobile products has helped it to three straight quarters of double-digit growth, the sort of growth which is being enjoyed by other notebooks vendors too.

While Toshiba does not make the top five in the EMEA region, other vendors, notably Fujitsu Siemens and Acer, are both strong players in this market-Acer makes up over 50% of its shipments in notebooks, and Fujitsu Siemens had 50% growth in notebook shipments for the quarter.

For the Middle East, the picture is the same. Notebook sales are strong across the region, particularly in the UAE, where shipments more than doubled over the course of 2002. Notebooks now make up 32% of UAE PC shipments.

Continued competition in the notebook sector is driving strong sales in both business and consumer markets. While it is unlikely that the desktop will ever be totally superseded by the notebook, increasing demands on worker's time is creating a demand for the flexibility to work from home and so on, it is not unthinkable that notebooks could make up the majority of business PC shipments in developed markets in a few years time.

Consumers already are showing a preference for notebooks, even when the closest they might come to mobile computing is taking the notebook from the bedroom to living room and back again. The question now has to be what are the implications for the rest of the market in this shift to notebooks?

Already we have seen vendors adjust their product lines to accommodate notebooks-Fujitsu exited the desktop hard drive market to concentrate on small form factor drives; Intel has undergone a complete redesign of its processor architecture for its Centrino mobile platform.

While the components manufacturers need to stay ahead on power consumption, size and durability of notebook components, the peripheral companies may need to consider shifting their activities altogether-monitor manufacturers in particular should be bracing themselves for change.

From a channel perspective, more notebooks mean less opportunities for upgrade components sales, but more demand for warranties, insurance and servicing. The success of notebook vendors is a clear indicator which way the market is going, but whether the hardware market as a whole can share the success remains to be seen.

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