A report said that Chinese entrants into the notebook market in Western Europe and the USA will pose new challenges to existing vendors.
Digitimes said that Xiaomi and Huawei will launch products in the more “mature” markets next year, giving HP, Dell, Lenovo and the other traditional players a run for their money.
The same report suggested that Samsung is preparing a fresh foray into the notebook market soon after it withdrew from the fray last year.
And it suggests there is pressure on Taiwanese giants Acer and Asustek to merge in face of declining sales in the notebook sector. Acer is firmly against such a move.
Lenovo is in the doldrums, while Digitimes said in its report that Toshiba and Fujitsu are likely to consign their notebook lines to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP).
JIP had previously taken over Sony’s notebook business, once one of the corporation’s jewels in its crown.
Despite optimistic noises from vendors that the fourth calendar quarter would see a rebound in sales of PCs, it just does not seem to be happening.
According to the Taipei Times, Asustek, Wistron and Compal have all seen drops of sales.
A senior executive at Asustek told the newspaper that there’s still fundamental weakness in the marketplace.
Compal saw sales fall by 9.91 percent in October compared to October in 2014, while sales fell 19.49 percent compared to September 2015.
Meanwhile, another Taiwanese news feed – Digitimes – said that Compal and Wistron saw sales of notebooks decline. In Compal’s case, it shipped 32.4 million notebooks in the first 10 months of this year, and that’s a fall of 2.6 million units compared to the same period last year.
Compal, however, is shielding itself from being hit on the desktop and notebook side by developing a pretty robust server business.
While some vendors are getting out of the declining PC notebook business, it appears that Chinese giant Huawei will introduce notebooks next year.
Huawei is already in the X86 server business and this year launched smartphones, which according to analysts, sold really quite well.
Digitimes reports that Huawei will use a Chinese original design manufacturer called BYD, and that company will make so called 2-in-1 Windows 10 notebooks. Xiaomi, a smartphone competitor is using Taiwanese ODM Inventec to make notebooks for it.
Huawei already has a pretty developed channel worldwide, and the move is likely to dent business by Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer and Asustek.
The move could also lead to lower prices for PC notebooks, as the market develops.
Microsoft’s introduction of the Surface Pro 4 last week makes it quite clear that the company doesn’t give a jot about its customers who sell notebook PCs and it is quite happy for them all to wind their operations down.
For the last 20 years, Microsoft has kept a tight grip on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original development manufacturers (ODMs) who bear the cost of creating machines running the then ubiquitous Windows and using, by and large, Intel processors.
Margins for OEMs and ODMs are increasingly flat, and demand for notebooks continues to decline, which has led to several players exiting the arena, most notably Sony with its Vaio range of machines.
But the introduction of its own machine, competing with its former customers, only underlines the consolidation that is likely to proceed in the brand notebook market.
Industry delegates at the Canalys Channels Forum last week said they expected to see only three major brand players left in the notebook market in the foreseeable future – HP, Dell and Lenovo. Acer has said earlier this year that it would fight against aggressive acquisitions while Asus hasn’t said very much at all about its future.
Microsoft’s introduction of the Surface Pro 4 appears to pitch it against Apple – but even with an impressive set of specs, it probably doesn’t stand a snowball in hell’s chance of winning much market share.
The news for vendors of notebooks hasn’t been good for many quarters now but it appears August offers a glimmer of hope for the manufacturers.
Digitimes Research (DR) said that the top five brands showed growth of 17 percent in August, over July’s figures.
In more rosy times, August was the month that manufacturers prepared machines for the “back to school” period but that patterns been disrupted for some years now.
DR said that out of the top five vendors, HP, Lenovo and Acer had a healthy August showing growth of 30 percent, 30 percent and 40 percent respectively.
But the shipments were not too good for Asustek and Dell, which showed weak growth, with DR believing the latter suffered from lack of demand in the commercial sector.
Meanwhile, the original design manufacturers – that is to say the companies that actually make the kit that is later branded, also did well, with Quanta, Compal and Wistron all seeing growth for the period.
DR believes it’s impossible right now to gauge the effect of Windows 10 on notebook sales.
And while many of the companies showed growth in shipments, those aren’t sales.
A lack of demand for notebooks has led to companies in Europe ending up with stacks of unsold notebooks and leading them to experience cash flow problems.
That’s according to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, which said that some of them are offering deals including buy two and get one free. But it looks like people don’t even want to buy one, never mind two.
The wire said that the retailers are suffering so much stock indigestion that they’ve asked major brand vendors to give them longer to pay their bills.
The problem has been partly caused by vendors offering big commissions to sell notebooks but that hasn’t worked despite the best of the retailers’ efforts.
And Acer and Asustek, which have resisted pressure from the bigger vendors to offer higher commissions are suffering because they can’t compete on pricing and the commissions offered by HP and Lenovo.
Acer made a profit in its last financial quarter but it was a small profit.
Windows 10 may be popular for existing notebook users who can upgrade for free, but that’s not enough to make people buy new machines, Digitimes said.
The CEO and founder of Dell said that he sees consolidation in the PC market in the next couple of years.
Dell is third in the global PC market with 14.5 percent market share, with HP at number one and Chinese firm Lenovo at number two.
Talking to journalists in Bengaluru, India, Michael Dell told Reuters that the three top firms will have around 80 percent of the market in the next five years.
Despite the fact that the PC market is shrinking, Dell is doing pretty well, Dell said because the company now just doesn’t focus on selling PCs but also software and security for enterprise customers.
Dell told the journalists that his firm has outgrown the other two chief rivals in terms of notebook sale and has grown its share 10 quarters in a row.
Last week the founder of Taiwanese PC maker Acer said that any takeover of his firm would face a hostile reaction from the company. Acer barely scraped a profit in its last set of financial results.
Dell, now a private company, has no intention of releasing any kind of smartphone, he said.
Sales of PCs continue to decline but this time it’s in the Middle East and Africa region, with shipments falling by 25.6 percent in the second quarter of this year.
IDC said that sales of desktops fell 21.2 percent but notebooks fared worse and fell by 28.6 percent to 1.9 million units.
Some of the region is troubled by conflict but that isn’t the reason for the decline. According to IDC, there was too much existing stock swilling around in the channel, exacerbated by a slowdown in demand and currency fluctuations.
Fouad Charakla, analyst research manager for the region, said that in the UAE, a slowdown in tourist spending from Russia and from Europe inhibited demand for PCs.
HP is the leader in the region but its shipments fell 26 percent in the second quarter. Lenovo, in second place, saw its shipments fall by 19 percent with Dell declining by 10.3 percent and Acer showed a decline of 29.3 percent and Asus falling by 26.7 percent.
Charakla said 2015 will be see region’s worst ever performance with low oil prices also affecting spends. Meanwhile, sales of tablets and smartphones are cannibalising demand for PCs.
Asustek shipped just 4.3 million notebooks in the second quarter, down from 4.8 million units in the first quarter and 4.6 million units in the second quarter of 2014.
Still notebooks did better than Asustek’s desktop shipments which were were only 500,000 units, 100,000 units lower than a quarter ago.
The company wants to maintain its notebook shipments at above 20 million units a year and has been launching new notebooks such as ultra-thin high-spec ZenBooks, high price-performance ratio T100 series devices and its latest gaming models, looking to shore up demand.
Asustek expects its notebook shipments to rise back to 4.8 million units in the third quarter, while desktop shipments will also increase to 600,000 units.
By the end of 2017, Asustek’s revenues from mobile devices will eclipse PCs and its mobile device business’ profitability will also catch up with that of the PC, helping to reduce the company’s dependence on PC products.
Asustek’s ZenBook and gaming notebook series together contribute 20 per cent of the company’s overall revenues and the percentage is expected to continue to expand to help the two product lines become main profit contributors in the second half.
Tablet sales have fallen fast. Asustek shipped one million tablets in the second quarter, with the company’s tablet shipments in the first half totalling 2.5 million units. Last year it flogged 4.1 million units in the first half of last year.
This has not stopped Asustek being optimistic about tablets. It said that its third-quarter tablet shipments to rise to 1.8 million units with the launch of its ZenPad series. Asustek maintains its annual shipment goal of seven million tablets in 2015 and the business will achieve a break-even performance in the year.
Asustek is also pushing into the enterprise tablet market. The ZenPad series will mostly adopt Intel’s platforms. Meanwhile, the LTE-supported models will use Qualcomm chips.
Every market research company known to the world plus her or his dog is pointing to the inevitable. There’s no compelling reason to buy another tablet once you’ve got one or two and a smartphone as well.
And that view is underlined by Taiwanese market research company Digitimes Research (DR), which knows what it’s talking about because Taiwan is the engine room of hardware and has been since the mid to late 1980s.
DR is forecasting that global tablet shipments will fall by 15 percent in the third quarter of this year – that’s the quarter we’re in, folks.
Apple, DR suggests won’t bother launch a new iPad Air for the nine inch size, but will just carry on selling the iPad Airs it’s already selling.
Nevertheless, the analysts believe – and we believe with some justification – that Apple will ship a 12.85 inch iPad later this year.
Apple will not fare well against mainstream Android vendors and Windows 10 isn’t going to necessarily make the world a better place.
DR forecasts the top four players in the quarter wil be Apple, Samsung, Lenovo and Asustek. That might cheer Intel up a bit, like Microsoft the chip giant is trying to sail its boat through the doldrums.