The announcement of Intel's latest mobile processor offering, which includes the new SpeedStep technology, means notebook resellers face another technology quandary. The SpeedStep fanfare was quietly accompanied by a huge cut in the price of the 500MHz model.
In an unusually deep round of cuts, the chip vendor slashed the price of its 500MHz Mobile Pentium III processor by 54 per cent, from $US530 to $245, according to information on Intel's Web site. Prices of 450MHz and 400MHz versions of the chip also fell sharply, by as much as 46 per cent.
And for resellers, that means the predictable shuffle in the price lists for the top end of the notebook offerings. The 54 per cent drop in the OEM price of the 500MHz processor will mean a rethink by vendors and distributors, and for some, it may mean passing over the latest chip.
While the announcement by Intel has been long awaited, it might have caught some vendors in a quandary as to what processor options they should include in their range.
Acer portable PC product manager Antonio Leone, confirmed that it would soon be announcing a new range of 730 TravelMate notebooks with an optional Pentium III 450MHz or 600MHz processor with the new technology. A Compaq spokesperson also confirmed it will be announcing new Pentium III-based products but could not reveal pricing or which speed options would be included.
For savvy resellers, and especially retailers thinking of stocking top-of-the-range notebooks, it means extra diligence is required, and careful assessment of cost/benefit will be needed. But no retailers should be caught with stock according to Derek Merdith, managing director of notebook specialist Laptop Land.
At that part of the product spectrum, the multi-vendor business-to-business retailer doesn't carry inventory, he said. `We run a tight stock model, but the vendors and distributors are most likely to be affected (by the rapid processor announcements),' he added.
Another IT retail observer said that any uncertainty in product releases adds to buying decision reluctance.
Meanwhile, resellers can get ready for a flurry of notebook announcements featuring the new SpeedStep technology, as vendors etch out product differentiation.