Notebooks outsell desktops in Q1

IDC claims the launch of the Eee PC and the UMPC category helped push notebook sales past desktops

Notebooks accounted for more than half of all PC units shipped in Australia during the first quarter of this year, marking the first time portables have outsold desktops.

According to Q1 figures from IDC, notebook sales represented 50.3 per cent of all shipments, up from 45.4 per cent year-on-year. Twelve months ago, desktop sales represented 54.6 per cent.

IDC PC analyst, Felipe Rego, said the total PC market experienced better than expected growth during Q1 of 13.9 per cent year-on-year. Portable machines were the reason for almost all of it, chalking up 26.4 per cent growth over the same period. Desktop PCs recorded 3.7 per cent growth.

While pointing out desktop PC sales were typically stronger in other quarters of the year, Rego said the overall move towards mobility was unstoppable.

"It's more than just a move towards mobility - the desktop is becoming a niche market but is still strong in larger organisations that require ROI and TCO on machines," he said.

Asus' low-cost ultramobile PC (UMPC), the Eee PC, was a significant contributor to the strong notebook growth during the first quarter of this year, Rego said. The Eee PC was launched in Australia in December.

"The growth not only came from the cannibalisation of the desktop PC space, but also additional units sold in the notebook market," he said. "With Asus bringing out its ultra low-cost PC and other vendors planning to enter that [UMPC] market, it's definitely lifting portable PC sales. We have revised our forecasts because of that."

Asus was the star performer in the first quarter of 2007, nearly doubling its notebook marketshare to 8.1 per cent. Not surprisingly, the Taiwanese vendor had another impressive run in the first quarter of 2008 and recorded 11.8 per cent marketshare.

"Asus is not only cannibalising other vendors, it's also adding new units," Rego said. On the flip side, Acer experienced a slower quarter in retail but should recover as it refreshed its product line in the second half of the year, he said.

"There was a lot of competition in retail from the likes of Toshiba. Moving forward, Dell will be a bigger threat in that space," Rego said.

While commercial sales remain consistent, sales of notebooks in the consumer market continued to soar despite the impact of record-high interest rate rises and mortages on the user's hip pocket.

"Things only started to get worse towards the end of the quarter, so it didn't impact as much in Q1 as we believed," Rego said.

However, the tougher economic climate would affect PC sales during the rest of 2008 and into 2009 before picking up later next year, he said.

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