The latest global PC shipment numbers from Gartner and IDC have probably confirmed recent fears that tablets (effectively the iPad for now) are eating into secondary PC sales. Gartner expects media tablets to get even more ravenous as time goes on. The market research firm has forecast that media tablet sales will touch 19.5 million in 2010.
Next year might be 2011 according to the Gregorian calendar, and the year of the Rabbit as per the Chinese, but it’d truly be the year of the media tablet if Gartner’s sales forecast is proved correct. It expects tablet sales “to total 54.8 million units in 2011, up 181 percent from 2010.”
“Mini notebooks will suffer from the strongest cannibalization threat as media tablet average selling prices drop below $300 over the next 2 years,” Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, is quoted as saying in a Gartner release.
“The all-in-one nature of media tablets will result in the cannibalization of other consumer electronics devices such as e-readers, gaming devices and media player.”
Everywhere you turn it's 3D this and 3D that, but despite the marketing blitz, 3D technology isn't winning over consumers in droves. That includes the mobile PC market where 3D is having a tough time getting established.
According to reports, global sales of 3D notebooks in 2010 will only reach 150,000 to 200,000 units, which is partly the result of targeting mainly high-end gamers. For example, HP just recently introduced a 17.3-inch Envy 3D notebook that sells for between $1,500 and $2,000. With or without 3D, that's a tough sell with sub-$1,000 notebooks sporting respectable specs these days.
There are a handful of lower-end 3D notebooks in the pipeline too, most of which feature passive polarization glasses rather than Nvidia's active shutter glasses. As 2011 rolls around, we expect to see vendors targeting mainstream audiences with 3D notebooks, and we wouldn't be surprised to see a handful of 3D tablets emerge.
At what price point would you consider a 3D notebook, if at all?
Right now you should be thinking either one of two things (or both): 'What the frak is a "superphone?"' and 'Is 100 million units by 2015 a lot?'
Let's start with the first. According to Alex Spektor, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, which came up with the number, "We define a superphone as a high-end smartphone with a supersized display above 4 inches and a super-fast processor greater than 1GHz."
By strict definition then, all those 1GHz Snapdragon and Hummingbird powered smartphones with enormous screens don't qualify, though we're not so sure Spektor meant dismiss those. In any event, to answer the second question, 100 million is a lot, at least in terms of growth rate.
"We forecast global superphone shipments to grow 550 percent from 15 million units in 2010 to 100 million by 2015," Spektor added. "Major brands, such as Samsung, HTC, Android, Nvidia, an Texas Instruments are driving the high-growth superphone category in developed markets."
The research assumes that consumers want bigger phones to begin with, and according to Neil Mawston, Director at Strategy Analytics, "Superphones are at the forefront of computerizing the handset market. Superphone models, such as the Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Evo 4G, are driving more PC-like features into the hands of mobile consumers."
Looks like those 1GHz models to qualify. With that being the case, do you own or plan to purchase a superphone? If so, which model?
We're starting to see some non-Apple-y tablets peek into the market place, like the eLocity A7 unit that's now available for preorder. That means competition will start to heat up for the iPad, which up to this point has had the tablet market mainly to itself. How will the iPad fare in 2011?
According to UBS Investment Research, the iPad will continue to fly off virtual and brick-and-mortar shelves for a long while to come. UBS reckons Apple could move 28 million iPads in 2011, enough to affect the sales of lower end PCs.
"Sales of traditional notebooks appear to be feeling pressure from the iPad, causing a scramble by vendors to launch iPad-like tablets," UBS Investment Research analyst Maynard Um wrote. "We believe that a majority of this impact is occurring on the lower end of PC sales as the iPad is priced close enough to this range that it becomes attractive to consumers looking to make purchases within this segment."
Naturally, that would be just fine with Apple, which doesn't really dabble in the low-end PC market anyway.
"If it turns out that the iPad cannibalizes PCs that, I think, is fantastic for us, because there are a lot of PCs to cannibalize," Apple COO Tim Cook during a recent earnings call. "It's still a big market."
Hewlett Packard (HP) expects to become the world's second largest supplier of netbooks in 2011, and should the company get there, they should consider sending a bottle of Cristal to Intel, the world's No. 1 chip maker. It only seems fitting, considering Intel just shipped a large number of its new dual-core Atom N550 processors to HP for $65, representing a significant 25 percent savings over the chip's official $86 price tag.
As it currently stands, Acer, Samsung, and Asus are the three largest netbook suppliers in the world, in that order. MSI could have been in the mix too, but the company is putting on the brakes somewhat citing concerns over market demand for dual-core netbooks. Instead, MSI is reportedly stepping back to focus on single-core units, and eventually will exit the market in favor of traditional notebooks.
Maybe the tech recession is finally over, or perhaps it just couldn't get any worse. Either way, worldwide PC processor shipments and revenues climbed by 3.6 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, in the second quarter of 2010, according to market research firm IDC.
"Such a sequential increase in PC processor shipments alone would have been enough to conclude that the first half was strong for the market," said Shane Rau director of Semiconductors: Personal Computing research at IDC. "However, a modest rise in revenues, too, points directly to a rise in ASPs. System makers bought more and higher-priced PC processors in the second quarter than in the first. Digging a little deeper into the numbers shows that they bought more mobile processors and more server processors, while desktop processors remained flat."
As the IDC reports it, the desktop sector continued to struggle with a 0.1 percent decline on quarter. Mobile PC processor shipments, on the other hand, rose by 6.5 percent, while the server market saw a 6.1 percent rise on quarter.
Following the launch of Apple's iPad, there was some question as to the future of dedicated eBook readers. After all, the iPad does a serviceable job of flipping through eBooks, and with a spate of competing tablets en route to a retail store near you by the end of 2010, where does that leave standalone readers?
In a very good position, according to Scott Liu, chairman of EPD (electrophoretic display) maker E-Ink Holding. As Liu sees it, eBook reader shipments are in position to be two to three times higher in the second half of 2010 thanks to recent price cuts by the industry's heavy hitting trio.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Sony all recently slashed eBook reader pricing, and with some of the newer models checking in at just $140, dedicated readers are suddenly a lot more compelling. This isn't just a theory, either. As Liu points out, shipments for Amazon's 9.7-inch Kindle DX increased threefold when Amazon cut the price from $489 to $379.
According to Liu, demand for Amazon's newest Kindle models has been strong, forcing E-Ink to ramp up its production efforts to keep up with client's orders. And if the market continues this way, Liu sees reader pricing dropping to sub-$100 levels in the not-too-distant future.
Notebook vendors are scrambling trying to figure out why demand has weakened to the point where they're suddenly stuck with a backlog of inventory. In both North America and Europe, notebook inventory levels are sitting at 5-6 weeks, compared to the normal level of 3-4 weeks, Digitimes reports.
This could simply be the fallout of a slowed down economic recovery, or it could be that consumers are looking to spend their money on other mobile devices, like the suddenly affordable spate of eBook readers or upcoming flurry of tablet PCs.
Either way, notebook vendors are holding out hope that the downfall in sales is only temporary and will recover this month and next. At the same time, Digitimes points out that downstream notebook makers have reduced their component orders in July, which suggests that they could be in for a slow summer and back-to-school shopping season.
Fast approaching the size of major international brand vendors, smartphone maker HTC said it expects to ship upwards of 6.5 million handsets in the third quarter of 2010. If HTC reaches its goal -- and there's every reason to believe the company will -- it will represent a 132 percent increase from the same quarter one year ago.
HTC's rise as a dominant handset maker has come seemingly overnight. The reason, says company CFO Cheng Hui-ming, is that HTC thrived largely as a niche player, riding the waves of a single hot product every year. In more recent times, HTC has been able to pump out several popular smartphones simultaneously, and that's made all the difference in the world.
As Cheng sees it, HTC will continue to be a major force rather than this being a temporary upswing in shipments. The company plans to increase monthly capacity at both its Taoyuan and Shanghai plants to two million and one million units, respectively, in 3Q10, Cheng said.
Chalk it up to successful marketing or a genuine desire to consume 3D content in the home, goofy looking glasses be damned, but according to DisplaySearch, 2010 will come to an end having seen 3.4 million shipments of 3D TVs. And that's just the beginning. By 2014, that number will skyrocket to 42.9 million, more than a 12-fold increase.
"TV manufacturers have managed to launch products very rapidly. We have seen a full range of 3D TVs in sizes from 40 inches to 63 inches already available, and without a doubt, there will be another wave of new products at the IFA show in Berlin in September," noted Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research.
DisplaySearch feels pretty confident this is much bigger than a passing fad and predicts that the 3D TV market penetration will grow from 5 percent of total flat panel TVs in 2010 to 37 percent in 2014. That's more than a third of all flat panel TV shipments.
"Based on early indications, the launch of 3D TVs is similar to Samsung's rollout of LED LCD TVs at the beginning of 2009, albeit at a slightly slower pace," said Paul Gagnon, Director of North America TV Research at DisplaySearch. "This would be in line with our forecast of just over 2 million 3D TVs shipped in North America for 2010.
Despite all this, DisplaySearch points out that the electronics industry is outpacing content availability, which so far is limited to a handful of movies and sports events on pay TV.