Notebook Dawn is Brightening – Sales Surge

Monday, January 31, 2005

By Catherine Van Herrin and Lucy Layman

Read all about it: Computer technological history is being made. Everyone’s logging on these days, from sprightly fifth graders to zimmer frame wielding octogenarians. Today’s notebook buyers are savvy and price-conscious smart, and computer manufacturers and retailers know they can’t be blindsided.

Laptops are no longer viewed as a luxury item that the ordinary consumer just can’t flash the cash for; they’ve bounded into our lives as an everyday staple as opposed to the “WOW” effect they created just a few years ago.

Laptop manufacturers and retailers enjoyed a booming sales year in 2004, and that trend isn’t forecasted to change in the first quarter – or perhaps the entire year of 2005, either.

The key factors in this bumper sales scenario? Price, of course — and super-enhanced laptop quality, nudging demand for PCs aside. Laptops are flying off the shelves in a big way thanks mainly to a technological buffet line of faster wireless connections, photo and video editing, DVD burning/viewing, and digital music editing/playing.

Add enhanced video games and powerful data-handling projects to the table, and the wireless consumer is feasting in paradise.

While PC sales aren’t yet sinking like torpedoed cargo ships, (though desktop sales did fall 7% in 2004), their newest competitors, laptops, (thanks to innovations like the Sonoma chipset) have almost matched PCs’ technological abilities. Indeed some reports even indicate that differences in performance between PCs and laptops are negligible.

Globally, and particularly in China, the cost of laptops is expected to drop exponentially in the first half of 2005. Intel’s new-generation Centrinos are likely to cause manufacturers and retailers to slash prices on older models to keep up with consumer demand.

Russia reports 2004 PC sales reached 5.1 million units, but laptops were still ahead of the game, jumping a whopping 170% in sales. And India estimates laptop sales will exceed to more than three lakh (hundred thousand) units this year — a high-jump of 140% from 2003 sales figures. China’s Toshiba plant expects to produce 3 million laptop units this year, up a cool million from 2004.

The top PC maker, Dell, maintains that “desktops, as we know it,” will sooner than later start phasing out; and Intel, now the world’s top chipmaker, is certainly helping usher them out the door. Even PC-proud Dell’s laptop sales are increasing at 30% a year.

So step aside, PCs: The global laptop sales surge has taken over, and they’ll likely make dinosaurs of you in no time. Again, consumers are smart shoppers, and who would turn down a portable entertainment center that’s also lightweight, durable, and super-power-packed with lightning-fast Internet access and graphics processing capabilities? Wake up to a new day: The Laptop dawn is brightening.