A report said that for every CPU it sells to Chinese vendor Xiaomi, Intel will give away a tablet CPU too.
The report, in Taiwanese wire Digitimes, quotes sources in the supply chain for the information.
It’s transparently clear what the chip vendor is doing. It still only has a minute share in the tablet market which is dominated by other players, and it hopes that the move will spur Xiaomi to make Intel based tablets.
Xiaomi has made a name for itself in the smartphone market, and Intel has only a weak presence in that market too.
But while the deal might look juicy and attractive, it transpires that the “free” chips are cheap Atom microprocessors.
Xiaomi is a relatively new player in the PC notebook market and is expected to launch products in Europe in the new year.
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.
Market research firm Trendforce said the price of mainstream solid state drives (SSDs) fell by 10 percent for four quarters in a row.
And that means between 25 and 28 percent of notebooks that ship use SSDs rather than hard disk drives.
Senior research manager Alan Chen said that in 2016 the difference in price between HDDs and SSDs will be close to price parity, meaning that next year nearly a third of all notebooks shipped will use the faster SSD.
But the blot on the landscape is that branded notebook vendors and channel distributors aren’t buying as many SSDs as they might do because notebook sales are still rather poor.
Chen said that 43.3 million notebooks shipped worldwide in the third calendar quarter – a growth of 13 percent on the second quarter. But that’s due to seasonality.
Trendforce believes that sales of notebooks in the fourth quarter will be affected by problems shifting existing stock.
Import tariffs on large displays is discouraging people from buying big TFT LCD displays. Currency fluctuations have also had an effect on the figures.
IHS Technology said in a report that shipments will fall by about five percent for the whole of 2015.
However, the decline in shipments will be offset by the manufacturers by growth in the amount of panels that can be built – that will grow by five percent in 2015.
IHS said that year on year shipments of displays for tablets, notebook PCs, and PC monitors will fall by 12 percent in 2015.
Yoonsung Chung, a senior analyst at IHS, said that maintaining TV panel production is the most important to use the full capacity of the fabrication plants that build the panels.
He said: “To consume this added capacity, TV panel makers must produce more panels, whch means the industry could end up adding excess panels to inventory, leading to sharp TV panel price erosion in the second half of this year.”
He said prices are also likely to fall in 2016, meaning the cost of 55-inch and bigger TVs will fall – and that may stimulate demand.
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.
More data suggests that notebook sales, despite recent optimistic noises, are still in the doldrums.
The latest data, from Digitimes Research (DR), estimates that global notebook shipments will slump by 17.5 percent in the fourth quarter.
The market research company believes that vendors are still cautious about demand, particularly in the consumer market. Enterprise sales are only likely to decline by a fraction of this figure.
DR said that Hewlett Packard is very cautious about shipments in the fourth quarter and is facing its own challenges in the move to splitting the company into two separate entities.
And Lenovo is not selling as many machines as it hoped to, either.
Apple appears to be still doing pretty well as demand rises for its notebook products with people shifting away from Windows machines, and 2-in-1 machines also seem to be bucking the trend.
There are further signs that shipments of notebooks are looking up.
According to Digitimes Research, worldwide shipments grew in September after six months of stagnation.
The market research outfit said that the introduction of Intel “Skylake” processors and demand for Windows 10 accounted for the growth. Sales, of course, are not the same as shipments.
But although worldwide notebook shipments were up by six percent sequentially in the third quarter, compared to the same quarter last year there was a fall of 9.1 percent.
Apple showed real growth during the third quarter, compared to the Wintel vendors.
Lenovo and HP both saw 10 percent sequential growth in the quarter, but the same was not true for Asustek which saw a sequential decline in the third quarter.
Chromebooks haven’t apparently continued their momentum in the third quarter of this year. Last week, rival market research IDC had no good news about notebook shipments in the third quarter.
Like other PC vendors, Acer’s roadmap has been a bit rocky of late but according to reports the company is optimistic about the future.
Tiffany Huang, Acer president of operations, told reporters that the channels are still stuffed with Windows 8 based PCs but that’s an improvement on affairs barely three months ago.
The Taipei Times reported that she said that by the first quarter of next year, Acer Windows 10 PCs will exceed shipments of Windows 8 PCs.
Acer claims to be the number one Windows 10 PC vendor in Asia and in Europe.
Huang said she expected growth during this quarter due to people being attracted by Windows 10 and Chromebooks, 2-in-1 notebooks and gaming notebooks doing well.
Acer is believed to be nursing a grudge against Microsoft, after the launch last week of a high end notebook which effectively competes with Acer’s own high end notebooks.
Microsoft has denied it is competing with its customers and has claimed it’s competing with Apple, really.
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.
It’s been bleak times for notebook vendors over the last couple of years.
But, if a report in Taiwanese wire Digitimes is correct, things are, at last, picking up.
The report said the brand vendors have placed more orders than for quite a while, and there are expected to be strong shipment this month and next.
Apparently, people have stopped being shy about Windows 10 and have started buying notebooks.
But there is still a problem with Windows 10 and its free upgrades, because some systems will run the new Microsoft OS with pretty little trouble.
The jury is still out on whether people will put their hands in their pockets to shell out for still rather expensive Windows 10 systems.
But it’s clear that the much cheaper Chromebooks is leading traditional notebook PC vendors to pushing the alternative to Windows 10 as hard as they can.