Will be powered by the company’s ultra-efficient Haswell chips
Their hefty price tags are a major reason why ultrabooks aren’t exactly flying off store shelves. True, the average selling price of these ultra-thin and -light laptops has witnessed a steady, if slow, decline in recent times, but it is still not quite where it should be.
Western Digital and Seagate command over 90 percent of the traditional hard drive market, so when one of these companies pipes up with concerns, everyone stops and takes note. According to Seagate, first-quarter revenues are likely to be 5 to 7 percent lower than its previous forecast of $4 billion, and it makes us wonder if it’s the start of a new trend.
Like Jennifer's Lopez's marriage, DRAM manufacturers are going through a bit of a rough patch. DRAM insiders were popping Cristal when the industry saw a 77 percent surge in revenues between 2009 and 2010, but thanks to a dramatic death-spiral in DRAM prices, those same executives could soon be snuggling up to Wall Street bankers and MD 20/20 in the gutter. Today, a report surfaced that indicates that things could get worse before they get better for DRAM manufacturers; some experts theorize that PC owners may shift away from DRAM into the open arms of NAND flash memory.
Fair warning folks, if you write on your hard drives with a permanent marker, you may be blacking out the warranty. Take it from Scott (last name withheld) who wrote to The Consumerist complaining that his HDD warranty is now void for having written on it with a Sharpie.
Scott claims the serial numbers on his SATA hard drives weren't being recognized by Seagate's online RMA system and so he called them instead. He was then asked to provide a sales receipt and a photo of the drives.
"Thank you for the pictures," Seagate responded in an email. "Unfortunately, I am unable to read the serial number for either drive, and the writing on the one drive would void any warranty for that drive. If you can please send more clear pictures, I will do my best to have this issue resolved."
Scott didn't upload any pics to The Consumerist, but he insinuates the markings aren't any worse than the ones repair shops put on HDDs to keep from getting them mixed up.
This is not the actual drive Scott tried to RMA. It is, however, an old hard drive we had laying around, and though as some readers have pointed out we didn't use a Seagate unit for this shot, we can assure you that the marker is a genunie Sharpie.
Has something like this ever happened to you? Hit the jump and post your RMA stories, good or bad.
Many industry watchers think they have caught the foul whiff of a PC sales slump. Their increasingly negative market outlook is beginning to affect share prices of tech behemoths like AMD and Intel. Now, that negative outlook has elicited a very strong reaction from Microsoft. A slowdown, or mere talk of a slowdown, is the last thing the company needs at this stage. After all, Redmond has been waiting for the PC market to fully recover from a previous slump so it can make the most of Windows 7's phenomenal show.
Bill Koefoed, Microsoft's General Manager of Investor Relations, accused analysts of hastily jumping to conclusions during Oppenheimer’s Annual Technology, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Boston. “I don’t know that I would take two guys that go visit some ODM (original design manufacturer) in Taiwan as a reference on what the market looks like. I would gather a lot of information and then decide what you think that it looks like.”
He is not really alarmed by the constant “chatter” about the PC market slowing down: “You know, whether or not the market’s up or down one month or another, I don’t know, there tends to be, since I’ve had this job, there tends to be a lot of chatter.”
Another top Microsoft executive was also quick to downplay all such apprehensions while speaking at the Pacific Crest Leadership Forum on August 10. Robert Youngjohns, Microsoft SVP and president, North America Sales & Marketing, reminded everyone that besides PCs, “a substantial part of our business in North America is selling infrastructure software like Windows Server 2008, like SQL Server, like System Center, the stuff that runs the enterprise not just the PC.”
Google Chrome has been the third most popular browser in the world for quite some time now. According to web analytics firm StatCounter, the browser now occupies the familiar third slot in the United States as well. Google's WebKit-based emerged as the third most used browser in the US for the week beginning June 21. This is the first time its market share in the US has gone past Safari's.
"This is quite a coup for Google as they have gone from zero to almost 10% of the US market in under two years," said Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. "There is a battle royal going on between Google and Apple in the internet browser space (Chrome v Safari) as well as in the mobile market (Android v iPhone)."
StatCounter's report is based on a sample of 874 million US page views. Chrome now commands almost 9% of the US browser market, but still trails Firefox (28.5%) and Internet Explorer (52%) by a long way.
Acer is well on course to overtake Hewlett-Packard as the world's leading laptop vendor by the end of this year, according to Chairman J.T. Wang. He said that better-than-expected performance in some countries should see revenues jump 10-15 percent sequentially in the third quarter. He made the comments while addressing shareholders at a meeting.
However, Acer may have already pipped HP to the top spot in the netbook market. Gartner's research shows that the Taiwanese PC vendor finished the first quarter as the world's leading notebook seller ahead of HP, though the gap between the two was marginal – 9.49 million notebooks to HP's 9.47 million.
Wang said that the company has managed to grow even in the face of the ongoing debt crisis in Europe. More importantly, Acer hasn't resorted to price hikes to offset the recent wage increases in China. Moving forward, the world's number two PC vendor hopes to make a dent in the smartphone market aided by Google Android.
Although HP and Dell are planning to introduce new ultra-thin notebook models, based on Intel’s Consumer Ultra Low-Voltage (CULV) platform, in the fourth quarter, Digitimes Research has forecast a rough road ahead for the segment. According to Digitimes’ research wing, global ultra-thin notebook shipments are expected to account for 4% of all notebook shipments in 2009. It anticipates that 6 million ultra-thin notebooks will be shipped this year. It blamed their high prices for their low desirability with respect to netbooks. “In terms of the price/performance ratio, the ultra-thin notebooks' components carry higher prices than most of the standard parts, but their working performance is only slightly better than netbooks,” said Joanne Chien, senior analyst at Digitimes.
As the economy struggles to regain its footing, so too does the PC industry. The latest casualty to the bottom line hits the graphics market, which recorded anemic sales of graphics chips in 2009, the worst year ever, according to Jon Peddie Research.
Even scarier, Peddie says that graphics chip shipments are a leading market indicator since a big portion of chip sales goes to original design manufacturers (ODMs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
But it's not all gloom and doom. Peddie also said the worst is probably over, noting signs of a recovery in the third quarter are likely to appear. Moreover, Q3 will mark the beginning of major architectural changes and products from Intel, Nvidia, and AMD/ATI as each one continues to develop GPGPU products.
Google must be pleased to see the market for 3G netbooks swelling at a time when it is preparing to launch Chrome OS. Market research firm iSuppli anticipates 3G netbooks – those with embedded wireless broadband – to become even more popular in the next few years, as always-on internet becomes an integral part of the whole netbook experience. iSuppli expects 3G netbook shipments to increase by over 70%, as compared to the previous year, to reach 17.8 million units this year.
But a spike in netbook shipments doesn’t imply that it would be smooth sailing for Google’s Chrome OS. “Google must counter the high visibility of the Microsoft brand name on countless products in retail outlets, ranging from software, to PCs, to peripherals,” iSuppli advised Google.