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Asian firms post strong growth in mobile PC arena

Posted: 12 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Acer Lenovo mobile PC growth? mobile PC segment rank? Acer Lenovo mobile PC?

Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Dell remain the world's largest computer makers, but recent gains by Asian manufacturers Acer and Lenovo reflect a growing threat to the U.S. companies' dominance, according to market research firm iSuppli.

Acer in particular has shown impressive gains of late, with quarter-to-quarter mobile PC shipments in Q4 last year rising 45.6 percent to 3.4 million units, said iSuppli in its report on the global laptop market. The Taiwan company handily outpaced mobile market leader HP, which posted the second-highest growth rate for the quarter at 32.8 percent. HP shipped 5 million units in the quarter.

Acer's strong performance also reflects the rise of Asia Pacific-based manufacturers, which in the long term pose a threat to HP and Dell, iSuppli said. Acer and China company Lenovo accounted for combined desktop and notebook shipments in 2006 of 29.8 million units, or 12.5 percent of the market, up from 10.8 percent, or 23.6 million units, in 2005.

"Looking at the Top 5 PC OEMs, they are definitely separated into the major and minor leagues, with HP and Dell alone in the majors," iSuppli analyst Matthew Wilkins said. "However, today's minor leaguers could be tomorrow's major leaguers. Thus, current market-share developments for the Asia Pacific mobile PC OEMs could give us a glimpse into the future of top-tier competition in the market."

Through 2011, mobile PCs are expected to post a compound annual growth rate of more than 16 percent, compared with less than 4 percent for desktops, according to analyst firm IDC. If that pans out, mobile PCs would account for more than half of all client PCs worldwide in 2011.

Dell posted the weakest performance of the top-five mobile PC makers in the fourth quarter, as its shipments fell 1.5 percent to 3.52 million units, iSuppli said. Analysts said the company's troubles primarily stemmed from competition with HP and a generally tougher battle with other manufacturers in the global market.

On the strength of its Q4 sales, Acer's share of the global mobile PC market rose three points to 14.3 percent, toppling Toshiba from the third spot. Toshiba fell to fourth place.

"Acer came, Acer saw and Acer conquered in the fourth quarter," Wilkins said. "The company has been very public about its intention to capture the third spot in the mobile PC marketand the Q4 ranking shows the company is putting its money where its mouth is."

Acer's success was due to lower prices, which resulted in "very impressive" sales gains, particularly in Europe, iSuppli said. In contrast, mobile PC shipments for Japan-based Toshiba fell in the fourth quarter 1.1 percent to 2.45 million units, compared with 2.48 million in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, Lenovo remained in the number 5 slot. The company posted a 9.1 percent quarter-to-quarter increase to 1.9 million units. The company this month told the Reuters news agency it's planning to launch a new consumer business unit to boost PC sales in general outside its home market.

Overall mobile PC shipments rose to 23.6 million units in Q4, up from 20.4 million in Q3, iSuppli said. For the full year, global shipments increased 28.4 percent to 79.6 million units from 61.96 million in 2005.

ISuppli predicted that worldwide mobile PC shipments this year will rise 23.5 percent to 98.3 million units.

- Antone Gonsalves

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