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Desktop PC prices going down, is “nettop” laptop boom coming?

5, 27. 2009

   The sales of the low priced laptops called "netbooks," designed mainly for internet access and other selected purposes to cut production cost, are going up sharply. Such trend toward lower prices also appears to be affecting the prices of desktop computers, and the PC makers are introducing products priced in the range of 50,000 yen to 60,000 yen. These products seem to be popular among the consumers who do not want to pay much yet want to have PCs with big display panels. The makers seem to be getting definite response to their efforts. The netbooks, also called "nettops," are low-priced desktop PCs which may show a jump in sales in fiscal 2009.

15-16-type LCD monitor with DVD drive at 44,900 yen

OZZIO TR Series of PC Depot, said to be selling well
OZZIO TR Series of PC Depot, said to be selling well

   The netbooks were increasingly drawing public attention in the past year. According to a report announced by the U.S. research company DisplayResearch, based in Texas, on May 13, the sales of low-priced PCs went up 5.5 times to about 5.9 million units in the January-March quarter of 2009 over a year ago, while the sales of PCs as a whole dropped 19.2% to 24.4 million units. The market share of the low-priced PCs jumped from 2.9% to 19.5%.

   Leading players on the market are Taiwanese companies, such as Acer and Asus. Toshiba, Fujitsu and other Japanese companies are also joining in to add fuel to the competition on the market.

   Besides the nettop laptops, various models of "low-priced versions" of desktop PCs are being introduced currently in succession to the Japanese market.

   Among such low-priced desktop PCs is the "Eee Top" introduced by Asus on April 4, 2009. This PC has a touch screen by which the users can operate it by touching the display panel with their fingers. The screen is a 15.6-inch type, or about 1.5 times the size of the screen of a netbook. It comes with a wireless keyboard and its price is suggested at 64,800 yen.

   PCDEPOT Corporation, of Yokohama, the shop specializing in PCs known for the panel sign of "PC DEPOT," also introduced the "OZZIO TR Series" of PCs. The cheapest model in the series is priced at 44,900 yen and it has a 15-6-type LCD monitor and a DVD driver. DVD drivers for netbooks are usually optional and sold separately.

   A person in charge of marketing at the company appeared to be enjoying a success with the new sale when he said:

"They are selling as we had expected and I think we can say it's a success. We could answer to the wish of our customers who want big display panels but they don't want to spend much money for them, and I think this is a main factor for the success."

Many want high specifications for use at home

   Domestic research companies, however, are giving cold look at the cheap-priced PCs. According to a report announced by MM Research Institute, based in Tokyo's Minato City, on May 13, 2009, the shipments of PCs for individual use in fiscal 2008 went up by 15.6% during the first half over a year earlier and by 11.2% during the second half. The shipments showed a steady rise in contrast to those for use by business firms which had been hard hit by economic downturn. The research company, however, predict that the shipments to individuals will level off in fiscal 2009 with an increase rate of zero. It expects that demand will go down because of the sluggish economic condition but the netbooks and other lower priced PCs will push up the demand to register "zero increase or decrease" as a whole.

   While the research company predicts leveling off or a marginal increase in the sales of netbooks in fiscal 2009, it also said the netbooks are not strongly competitive. It explained:

"Netbooks don't have so much impact. The netbooks were answer to the needs of the users who wanted portable computers which were cheaper and smaller even at the sacrifice of some functions. The desktops were cheaper compared to laptops to begin with. They are for use at home. I'd say there are more users who want high specifications for use at home."

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